Mayor Andy Berke has named as chief of staff an official who has a strong sympathy with the work of a Memphis group that helped overturn a law that condemned poor people with a civil death sentence by depriving them of their driver licenses.
Kerry Hayes will replace Stacy Richardson in the mayor’s office. Mr. Hayes has served Mayor Berke as deputy chief of staff since late 2017.
“If justice doesn’t mean everything to everyone, it doesn’t mean anything to anyone,” says Mr. Hayes on a Facebook page seeking to raise F$800 for Just City a nonprofit civic group in Memphis.
“Several years ago, I was involved in the creation of Just City, a nonprofit organization that is working on the front lines of Tennessee’s criminal justice system to pursue reforms that are smarter, more fair, and more humane for everybody.
“Just City exists to protect people who do not have the financial resources or political power to protect themselves — and often must do so in the heat of battle.
Just City was involved in court action that prompted U.S. district court judge Aleta Trauger to effectively defend the right to travel by car and overturn the state law that allowed the department of safety and homeland security to suspend driver licenses of people too poor to pay “court debt.” Judge Trauger concedes that travel by car is essential for life, and that it is irrational for the state to forbid poor people from being on the road to get to work just because they are too poor to pay overdue court fines.
“Just City has focused national attention on Shelby County’s dangerously broken juvenile justice system,” Mr. Hayes says “lowered our state’s expungement fee, helped bail dozens of poor people out of jail, and won important legal battles regarding jail mismanagement, punitive court costs, and inhumane detention practices. And they’re just getting started.”
Mr. Hayes asks celebrants of his birthday to donate to Just City “so that [it] can continue to fulfill [its] mission and mitigate the catastrophic damage that too many families and communities experience as a result of contact with our criminal justice system.” The group’s members “hold us accountable to our ideals as a society of laws and I could not be more proud of what they are accomplishing for all Tennesseans.”
Says Mayor Berke: “Kerry’s experience in the public and private sectors have brought tremendous value to my senior leadership team since he joined the administration. I look forward to his counsel as we work to continue our progress.”
The Berke administration is under transportation administrative notice Tennessee since Feb. 20, 2018, and has yet made steps to remedy a continuing sore among minority communities and the rest of the people in Chattanooga.
That is, violation of Tennessee Code Ann. § Title 55, motor and other vehicles, which the city police apply upon private people using their cars apart from commercial activity and ouside the scope of the city’s transportation department regulating for-hire users. While the courts support the practice of ultra vires law enforcement against people not subject to the law, notice provides leverage for individuals fending off police harassment and abuse and allows them to file suits citing bad faith activity and oppression.