Main Street Journal - Weekly Update for Monday, March 25, 2013

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Recall Mike Ritz?

Republican County Commission president Mike Ritz voted with all the Democratic commissioners to expand the composition of the school board. The Commission approved the plan, to convert the planned school board to one that mirrors the current commission districts.

His action has spawned a recall movement. There is a recall Facebook page, too. More from WREG.

Downtown: A report (PDF document) by Jeff Speck takes all previous riverfront plans and distills them into a set of actionable items, ready to be adopted. The view from the Friends for Our Riverfront. A link to Speck’s entire talk in MP3 format and a condensed list of his recommendations. The Flyer’s John Branston compresses that list even further. Reactions to the Speck report.

Unified Shelby County Schools: Back to Square One in the search for a new superintendent of schools. Reaction from parents on the search for the next superintendent. Supporters of the schools merger held a rally last week. Few showed up at a meeting to get public input on the search. Some say it’s because parents feel excluded. Details on those meetings; more from the Tri-State Defender.

Teacher residency programs are catching fire in Memphis.

John Aitken: As exepected, the Shelby County school superintendent asked to be bought out of his contract. He was, immediately. No one on the board opposed the buyout. But he will remain in Shelby County for the foreseeable future. WREG interviewed him. Will Aitken be hired by one of the prospective suburban school districts? Reaction from school board members on Aitken’s resignation. More from the Flyer.

School Vouchers & Charter Schools: The State Senate Education Committee has delayed discussion of Governor Bill Haslam’s voucher plan for a week. Both sides are debating the size of the vouchers.

The Tennessee Charter School Incubator is receiving a one million dollar grant from the Walton Family Foundation to train “charter school leaders”.

Department of Children’s Services: A shocking case in Dyersberg from 2009 is only now coming to light, thanks to a lawsuit. More from the Associated Press.

Gasoline Prices: Prices have fallen an average of three cents per gallon in the past two weeks. Locally, it’s $3.44/gallon. Check out local prices via Memphis Gas Prices.

Memphis Parks Controversy: The City Council-appointed committee responsible for renaming Memphis parks met for the first time last week? Another meeting, open to the public, is scheduled for next week. The Flyer’s Jackson Baker reports on that first meeting. Mayor AC Wharton and City Council member Jim Strickland have suggested new names for some of the parks; more from ABC24 and Fox13.

The usual liberal activists will oppose the Klan march next Saturday.

Democratic Politics: Democrats strategically changed one of their appointed position members on the Shelby County Election Commission.

Lamar! The US Senate passed an amendment proposed by Senator Lamar Alexander that would allow States to collect, or not, at their discretion, Interet sales taxes.

Local TV: The company that owns WREG, and 20 other TV stations, is putting the station up for sale later this year. WREG anchor Richard Ransom broke the news locally. Local political talk shows Informed Souces (WREG) and Behind the Headlines (Daily News/WKNO) are online. A Tri-State Defender profile of newly-returned anchor Pam McKelvy on her move to WMC.

Airports: Four Mid-South regional air traffic control towers will be shut down by the FAA. FedEx may step in to save one of the towers. The sequester is blamed. A list of all towers affected. More from Fox13. Two towers in Arkansas are also affected.

Regional mayors are forming the Mid-South Air Service Task Force to increase air travel options and lower air fares. Passenger traffic continues to fall at Memphis International.

Tell your friends you read it here:

Orpheum: They have announced their 2013-2014 Broadway season, including The Book of Mormon, Flashdance and War Horse. Orpheum website (and ticket sales) here.

Memphis City Government: The City and the old Memphis City Schools may be negotiating the $57 million payment the City still owes the schools. The 25 Square program has a “neighborhood stewardship component” that involves painting up abandoned buildings.

Vehicle Inspections: Memphis auto inspections will be taken over by the State after July 1. More from WMC. Memphis mayor AC Wharton is not pleased with the change. City Councilman Shea Flinn calls it “unfair”.

Unemployment: The State’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.8%.

Millington: The blogger at Living in Millington points out civic malfeasance in budgets and employee pay.

Crosstown: Redevelopment will cost a staggering $175 million, part of which may come from the city. Backers call it an “opportunity”. The City Council seems “initially supportive”, according to the Flyer.

Southaven: Former alderman Barbara Cleveland thinks mayoral candidate Greg Davis may win re-election.

State Government: A list of bills Governor Bill Haslam has signed into law this week. Workers’ compensation reform continues to progress. Previous experience with TennCare is fueling wariness over the new Medicaid/Obamacare plans. A bill introduced in the House would prevent public colleges and universities from imposing school diversity requirements on student groups. A new bill in the Senate (SB 789) will require mental health professionals to report any patient’s threatening mental health status to law enforcement. A bill that was approved by the Senate, banning cell phone and camera usage at the polls, is stalling in the House.

Lt Gov Ron Ramsey, also the State Senate speaker, seems to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the progress of legislation this session.

Civil Asset Forfeiture: A policy paper from The Beacon Center of Tennessee on the “perils of policing for profit”. (PDF document)

Mississippi: State Representative Jessica Upshaw was found dead of a gunshot wound overnight Monday at the home of a former State legislator. The fast-growing DeSoto County school distict is planning for more growth. Former Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove says he now regrets signing into law a ban on same-sex adoption.

Janis Fullilove: The City Councilwoman and her husband will face a domestic violence trial.

“Sex Week”: Controversial plans by the University of Tennessee for a week of salubrious education have been thrown into disarray after State funding was pulled by University officials. More from ABC24. Voluntary donations are expected to replace the lost State funding.

Civil War: There is, somewhere in Tennessee, a surviving son of a Civil War veteran still receiving his monthly veteran/survivor benefit–$876. A Knoxville News-Sentinel story from 2010 found only six children of Civil War veterans still alive in the state!

Tennessee: The Brownsville police chief, Chris Lea, has apologised for a “racially divisive” picture.

Catholic Pope Francis: From the Tri-State Defender, the Memphis view.

FedEx: They missed analysts’ expectations on third quarter earnings.

Aerotropolis: Government officials are waiting for planners to lock in specific overall plans tied to local efforts for the concept.

Volkswagen: Governor Bill Haslam says Tennessee is a “right to work” state and that the company’s employees like it that way.

Second Amendment: Firearms sales have more than doubled in the state over the past decade.

Arkansas: The State Senate approved allowing concealed carry in churches that also operate private schools. And the House has advanced two proposals regarding tattoos and approved new limits on naming public buildings. A deal on the budget may be near. Governor Mike Beebe “doesn’t oppose” a bill extending in-state tuition to illegal-immigrant students.

Survey Says! We are the fourth most unhappy state, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. And we rank in the top ten of America’s least hipster-friendly cities. Boo hoo.

Property: A plague of “zombie titles” is sweeping Memphis.

Picture of the Week

Elvis is everywhere, even in Sarasota, Florida. From former Memphian “Singing Phillip” Rines; may require Facebook login. ¬©2013. Used with permission. Phillip’s work can also be seen at PWR Photography and Flickr.

Opinion and Blogs

Burn My Mouth: It’s round two of the hot wing challenge.

Flyer: When the shoe is on the other foot, they lament State interference in County matters.

Wheelhouse: Hillary Clinton versus Michelle Shocked? (Via the Flyer)

Dr Timothy Moore: Spring is a good time to use nutrition to recharge the mind and body. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Edward Tolliver, PhD: Mentoring works for African-American young males. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Daily News: The judge overseeing the merger of City and County schools, Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays, needs to take control of the process right now.

Memphasis: Reader mail and farm animals. (Via the Daily News)

Frank Cagle: New names for the same old government programs always seem to cost more. (Via the Knoxville MetroPulse)

East Memphis Moms: If you’ve been looking for a local resource for reviews and recommendations on a variety of services and business, these are your ladies.

Blue Collar Muse: The “Fairness in Ticketing Act” is neither far nor aimed at stopping scalping of counterfeit tickets.

MATTERS OF MERRYMAKING: How to deal with writer’s block? New shoes!

MAKE IT HAPPEN: How to handle a break in your running regimen.

My Memphis Mommy: A reminder that this coupons, freebies, sales and daily deals blog is stuffed every day with some amazing bargains for the savvy shopper. Start at the top and just keep scrolling!

My Crazy Busy Life: Worried about the loss of Google Reader? She offers an alternative. She’s going to BlissDom but her readers get the swag.

MemphisConnect: Festival season is nearing and they’ve got the list of places to go.

Rock-n-Romp: Rock-n-Romp Camp is returning this Summer. Kids and volunteers are needed.

Living Loud in Midtown: This is one busy weekend! Plus, lots of upcoming events listings, too.

Left Wing Cracker: A Democratic activist examines the proposed changes to the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee. He’s not happy.

Lemonslush: Her life, seen as one long identity crisis.

In the South, it’s a religion: Check out her friend’s pewter shop.

Dining With Monkeys: The family checks out new Midtown hotspot Chiwawa.

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