Convincing the big guy to write publicly

This is Sean Tierney, David Tierney’s son. Unbeknownst to my Dad I’ve set up this blog as a Christmas gift for him this year. I’ve been encouraging him to write publicly for awhile now and I’m hoping that by presenting this as a gift he’ll be more obligated to accept the challenge and start writing.

I won’t write a huge intro here but I wanted to say a few things:  my Dad has read more books than you have probably seen on shelves in your lifetime. When you read as much as he does (primarily historical nonfiction) you form an incredible breadth of knowledge spanning a variety of topics. My Dad can begin talking to you about the battle strategies employed in the Crimean War and transition in the same breath into a discussion on how those strategies are applicable today in the context of a trial defense in a construction litigation. Beyond book knowledge though my Dad is a “do’er” involved in somewhere on the order of twenty pro-bono volunteer efforts around Phoenix, AZ. He works daily behind the scenes in all kinds of capacities to make the City of Phoenix a better place for everyone.

I know I’m inherently biased here because I’m his son but he has hands-down some of the most fascinating stories to share. He’ll tell you about getting shot at while smuggling books to minority voters in Mississippi back in the 60’s, developing the vehicular traffic infrastructure for small towns in Venezuela while in the Peace Corps, BS’ing his way into becoming a salad chef as a summer job to pay his way through Harvard, defending underdog clients against well-funded bullies… and winning.  Anyways, he’s got stories.

I’ve seen him speak at his Hon Kachina award acceptance, the Justice Learned Hand award acceptance and at the Harvard Club in Phoenix.  The bottom line here is he has a wealth of experience and ideas to share but is humble to a fault and therefore needs to be coaxed into writing publicly.  I’ve been fortunate to glean some of his wisdom over the years through dinner conversations and hot tub sessions and I’m hoping with a little chiding here he’ll see this blog as a unique way to both share stories, OpEd and insight on the causes he works with from the Irish Cultural Center to the ACT Health Fair to the Tool Bank project, RJRC and numerous other endeavors.

So here’s what I ask you to do: if you know my Dad (or even if you don’t yet) leave a message below on this post so when he gets this on Christmas morning he’ll see that he already has a few readers. You can tell him what you want to hear about, just say hi or anything really. He’s been winding down his caseload with Sacks Tierney the past year, shifting emphasis more to the pro-bono endeavors and therefore finally has some time available to write. My goal is to “prime the pump” with a few readers so he gets excited about posting here regularly. The stories I’ve grown up hearing over fishing trips and dinner conversations will blow your mind. Let’s convince him to share them here with everyone else.


Sean and Dave

51 thoughts on “Convincing the big guy to write publicly

  1. Jeff says:

    Sean, you had me at “Convincing the big guy to write publicly.” Kudos for doing this!

    Mr. Tierney, I would absolutely love to read any of your stories. I will never forget seeing your bookshelves! I can’t imagine all stuff you have to share. Hope to be reading something soon! And thanks again for giving me that advice years ago.

  2. Dave,

    After hearing dozens of amazing dinner conversations I would totally read a blog that you author. If I can’t be in Phoenix sitting around talking politics/science/law with you, this is the next best thing. Take Sean’s advice, well selfishly for me anyway. Sorry my note is so short, I am on my mobile phone. I promise to follow and respond to your writings. Merry X-mas


  3. Donn says:

    Awesome idea, I wish I could get my father (especially my grandfather) to write publicly. There are always so many stories to be heard and so many different ways to look at things especially considering the vast experience(s) our parents have. Best of luck on this blog – I know I’m interested.

    Question: I’d love to hear about a couple of things:

    a) You’ve seen AZ grow as a state. What is something you miss from the days gone?
    b) If you had one story to tell, and only one to tell … what is it … and why?

    Good luck on this blog!

  4. Brian Kappus says:

    Your Son is a great person. I’d love to read from the Man that raised him. BK

  5. Sean Tierney says:

    Awesome everyone. Keep it coming! Donn- great questions. He’s seen Phoenix evolve from ’69 at the point where Van Buren was the only main road across town and Tempe didn’t even connect with Phoenix yet. Definitely some interesting perspective he can share there.

  6. James Armstrong says:

    Dave, do this. You were my mentor as a young attorney, and still my partner today. You are a true legend and pillar of the Phoenix legal community. And no one has better stories.

  7. Jenny says:

    What was your scariest moment as a civil rights activist?
    What is your favorite memory from the peace core?
    How did you end up in Phoenix after law school?

  8. Strebel says:

    The world needs more voices that know what they are saying. So much of what passes as wisdom these days are just coming from young punks like your son and myself. Drop some knowledge on us Mr Tierney.

  9. Jacob Akins says:

    Your mention of VanBuren peaked my interest Sean, as a board member for the Garfield neighborhood I’d be interested in reading anything regarding my neighborhood. Especially any insight into how and why this huge historic neighborhood has seen such hardship and ideas for how new leadership can continue fostering economic development without destroying our cultural significance.

  10. Sean Tierney says:

    I’ll layer in a few of my own questions here:

    -Dad, you interact with all kinds of people who are forces for good working behind the scenes in Phoenix to make it better. If you could spotlight three of those unsung heroes, who would they be and why?

    -AZ has had one political black eye after another in recent years. It’s easy though to get fixated on the negatives. What promising developments do you see materializing recently and how will those affect AZ in the coming years?

    -To build off Donn’s question: not only what do you miss about AZ of old, but constructively, is there anything we’ve lost as a State that could be restored if enough people cared? How might we go about doing that?

  11. Marci says:

    Mr. Tierney, I don’t know you, but your son makes quite the case – I’m in. Sounds like you’ve got the stuff for a great memoir and this seems like fun practice.

  12. What are you most profoundly curious about Mr. Tierney?

    I believe that’s what you should write about and teach us.

    Sean says that you’re quite the Irish history enthusiast, but what is it about Irish history that you’re so fascinated by? As an example, as a fellow Irishman whose father grew up in Ireland and lived in a pub until he died, I am far more curious about how/why drinking/pubs are such a part of many of their every day lives.

    What are you most curious about; the beauty of their land, or how/why others came to conquer it? Or are you far more curious about their religious history and how it affected them over the years? Or is it how they’ve endured through poverty/famine and so much strife? Or are you far more fascinated by the original IRA, as opposed to the thugs/terrorists who later took their name?

    Most importantly, what unique perspectives can you share? What can you share with us/teach us about Irish/other history that we’re probably not aware of? What connections did you make that others may not have, and what new can we learn as a result?

    I’m eager to learn from you. Sincerely.

    Sláinte & Merry Christmas!


  13. Jamon Metz says:


    To help you get started, I’d love your hear your thoughts/opinions (personal or professional) on any of these major topics that occurred since you graduated Harvard in 1965:

    1965—Voting Rights Act of 1965
    1965—Murder of Malcolm X in New York City
    1965—Immigration Act of 1965 ends revokes restrictive and racist immigration legislation of 1920s, begins rise of Latin American and Asian migration to the U.S.
    1965—César Chávez and United Farm Workers begin Delano grape strike, call for national grape boycott
    1965—Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed, attacking unsafe General Motors cars. Nader becomes leader of consumer rights movement and one of America’s most influential figures through the late 1970s.
    1965-70—rise of Black Power movement, eventually crushed by FBI-led murders of leading Black Power advocates
    1966—National Organization of Women (NOW) founded
    1966—California becomes first state to make LSD illegal, nation soon follows, but far too late to stop spread of drug
    1966—Martin Luther King takes civil rights movement to the North; violent protests against housing desegregation in Chicago.
    1967—Summer of Love in San Francisco, hippie movement becomes increasingly prominent
    1967—Bonnie and Clyde hits the theatres, destroying the restrictive code that guarded the morality of movies for 33 years and launching a new era of American film.
    1967—Reies López Tijerina leads raid upon county courthouse in New Mexico in protest over lands stolen from native New Mexicans.
    1968—Tet Offensive puts lie to President Johnson’s proclamations that the Vietnam War is almost won. Lyndon Johnson chooses not to run for reelection.
    1968—Assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee
    1968—Assassination of Robert Kennedy by Palestinian nationalist Sirhan Sirhan.
    1968—Brutal beatings of protestors at Democratic National Convention in Chicago, open warfare on the convention floor.
    1968—Alabama Governor George Wallace runs for president on openly segregationist platform, wins significant support in North—rise of white backlash to civil rights movement.
    1968—Richard Nixon wins presidency behind power of white backlash
    1969—Americans land on moon
    1969—Stonewall Rebellion in New York City marks first open resistance of gays to police repression, launches gay rights movement
    1969—increasingly radical women’s movement protests at Miss America pageant in Atlantic City
    1969—Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, drawing attention to massive environmental problems
    1969—Woodstock music festival in New York
    1970—Environmentalism becomes prominent; first Earth Day protests, creation of Environmental Protection Agency to enforce increasing number of environmental laws and regulatory agencies.
    1970—President Nixon invades Cambodia, leading to massive protests, including killing of students at Kent State University and Jackson State University
    1971—MASH begins its run as the most popular television show in American history
    1972—Equal Rights Amendment passes Congress, but rise of conservatism dooms it in state legislatures.
    1972—Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev conclude talks on Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the most important treaty controlling the nuclear arms race
    1972—Passage of Title IX, greatly expanding women’s access to college sports
    1973—U.S. pulls out of South Vietnam, Vietnam united under North Vietnamese leadership in 1975
    1973—American Indian Movement seizes Wounded Knee, South Dakota, leading to violent standoff with FBI
    1973—passage of Endangered Species Act, leads to revival of threatened species such as the bald eagle, wolf, and grizzly bear.
    1973—First large-scale economic crisis since Great Depression, leads to high unemployment and long-term economic uncertainty that lasts through remainder of 1970s.
    1973—Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion
    1974—Watergate scandal comes to light, resignation of President Richard Nixon
    1977—Apple introduces Apple II, the first prominent personal computer
    1978—California passes Proposition 13, drastically cutting property taxes
    1979—Iranian radicals take over American embassy, hold dozens of Americans hostage until 1981.
    1979—Three Mile Island incident—near nuclear meltdown ends period of nuclear power growth in U.S.
    1980—election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency
    1980s—President Reagan launches “War on Drugs,” results lead to imprisonment of 20% of young black men on nonviolent drug charges.
    1981—AIDS first recognized, Reagan administration ignores it as gay disease until 1985, setting back research and dooming thousands to early deaths.
    1981-87—Reagan administration supports right-wing movements in Central America, leading to civil wars and the deaths of tens of thousands.
    1986—Iran-Contra scandal comes to light, embarrassing Reagan administration
    1986—Challenger Space Shuttle explodes, event watched by nearly all schoolchildren because first teacher to enter space was onboard; national interest in space program declines
    1987—Supreme Court recognizes legality of Indian gaming
    1989—Fall of Berlin Wall heralds end of Cold War, breakup of USSR in 1991 ensures its end.
    1991—First Gulf War begins period of long-term American military involvement in the Middle East.
    1992—creation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expands both globalization and outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs abroad.
    1993—Internet becomes prominent
    1994—Republicans win massive gains in Congress, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich issues “Contract with America”
    1994—California voters pass Proposition 187, designed to deny undocumented migrants all state services, leads to backlash against Republican Party and makes California a Democratic stronghold based upon Latino votes.
    2000—Disputed presidential election, Supreme Court gives election to George W. Bush, voting on a strictly partisan basis
    September 11, 2001—terrorists attack the United States, over 2000 dead, begins “War on Terror,” invasion of Afghanistan, etc.
    2003—President George W. Bush orders invasion of Iraq
    2003—Latinos pass African-Americans as nation’s largest minority group
    2007—Global recession begins, no end in sight as of fall 2010
    2008—election of Barack Obama to the presidency
    2010—Arizona passes restrictive anti-immigration legislation, resurgence of racism and nativism throughout U.S.
    2010—summer of 2010 sees record high temperatures around nation, flooding around the world, global climate change reaches critical tipping point.

    Happy Blogging!!!

  14. Scott Hardy says:

    what a great idea! If you can convince YOUR dad to do maybe I can as well! We are truly blessed to have fathers we love, respect and learn from. I hope to read more about your Dad’s exploits soon!

  15. Cynthia Bowers says:

    Mr. Tierney,

    As a women approaching 40 who is managing a family and a career, I’d like to know, what should I know from someone like you who has managed both business and family matters so well? What should I know about how to use my career to help grow our economy through smart business practices that create opportunities for prosperity while raising children with good character and a social awareness?

    Experience matters. Would love to know what wisdom experience has brought to you.


  16. Cindy Eagar says:

    I know many people who don’t write or share because they think other people already know it or won’t find it interesting. But when they actually do share, people are fascinated and learn so much. I call it the curse of knowledge – when what you have, know or do seems so logical and obvious but to others the knowledge enriches their lives and opens up new possibilities.

    I don’t know what’s holding you back from writing, but I’d love to get even a glimpse of your knowledge. 🙂

  17. Chris Birdsall says:

    Merry Christmas Uncle David!! I can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts and insights in the blog posts to come!

  18. Andrew Cleasby says:

    Please do share your stories and insights. Extra points awarded to family-related content. Breath bated, awaiting eagerly!

  19. Ted says:

    David, I agree with Sean’s desire that you share your memories,thoughts and opinions with all. In the over forty years we have been friends, I have benefited from your eclectic knowledge. Knowledge is power and you have consistently used that power for good. Please consider the opinions and imploration of Sean, friends and collogues that you share your knowledge and perspective more broadly. You are a truly good man. You have touched many lives for the better. Hopefully through the suggested blog, many others will share the same benefit that I have all these years.

  20. Greg Bez says:

    Mr. Tierney, I would a absolutely follow your blog. It would be so informative to hear how Phoenix and AZ evolved.

  21. TJ Ryan says:

    War stories. We love war stories.

  22. Aaron Dragushan says:

    Would love to hear what you have to teach and tell Dave! Dean’s such an amazing person, kudos to you as a father.

  23. Aaron Dragushan says:

    Aargh auto-correct. Sean. ☺

  24. Leslie Murphy says:

    I can’t wait to hear some of these stories! I’d like to request any historical stories! And also the salad chef one. =)

  25. Sean Tierney says:

    Leslie, the salad chef one is soooo good. Let’s just say those who present themselves as expert salad chefs to land a summer job might want to research the difference between cabbage & lettuce first 😉

  26. Jeff Rushton says:

    David, I look forward to your words of wisdom and pontification on your soon-to-be state of omphaloskepsis.

  27. Ryan Crowley says:

    I would like to hear about you guys eating at the Mormon Lake Lodge and living to tell about it….great photo. Look forward to reading your next chapter.

    P.S. I promise never to let Sean throw a party at your house again.

  28. dan crowley says:

    My favorite tale is smart ass Bruce Babbit at Harvard Law Freshman year showing off for the prof. Have retold that many times. Keep the blarney flowing.

  29. Merry Cleasby says:

    Uncle David, I am certain you will put this blog to very good use. I look forward to many a family tale!

  30. Sean Tierney says:

    Dad, pls disregard Ryan’s comment above. That big party in high school was his idea, as was taking your canoe down the rapids in Munds and also peeling out on Connor’s football. Very corruptive influence on us… probably time to take his presidential pin off your President’s pin board.

  31. Katrina Anderson says:

    What I appreciate most about David Tierney is his logical mind. When asked a question, he first considers it, then delivers a thoughtful, rational response.

    Given that so many blogs today are simply emotive rants, I would enjoy reading one that presents a bit more like a defense argument: logical, cohesive, and persuasive.

    My favorite comment thus far was from Strebel, who said, “Drop some knowledge on us Mr Tierney.” I second that motion.

    Questions for David:
    – what is the best thing you cook?
    – tell us about your favorite family vacation.
    – If you were to compile a list of ‘must-reads,’ what books would be on it (and why)?

  32. Jay Jetter says:

    Mr. Tierney, I believe most of the conversations that I participated in at the Tierney household’s dinner table in the mid-1990s revolved around Cold Turkey’s gigs — I will be back on this blog to catch up on all of the stories that I missed!!

  33. Marietta Tierney Cleasby says:

    David. It has been said, “when an old man dies, a library dies with him.” With many years
    still ahead, I’d love to see you put your life and learning together.

    We can look back at the first librarian in a tiny building near our home in Hingham who
    couldn’t keep up with supplying you with a shopping bag of books each week. Now
    you have read thousands and that library of the written words has been enhanced by
    experiences of a life well lived. Glad to hear you will be writing it all down.

  34. James Armstrong says:

    You need a Facebook page!

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