Main Street Journal - Weekly Update for Monday, July 8, 2013

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Knock Down, Drag Out Tax Fight

Some council members explain why they had to raise the property tax rate. Mayor AC Wharton is calling for a “revenue director” position for the City; more from WREG. “Fireworks likely” at today’s Council meeting, says the Flyer. A “battle is looming” says Fox13. Changes to the storm water ordinance?

Councilman James Strickland is asking for a delay before the final vote on raising the local sales tax. Councilman Lee Harris dropped his push for an exemption for vehicle testing for Memphians. Compare and contrast the budget approaches for the City and County.

City of Memphis: Many of the City committees appointed by Mayor AC Wharton haven’t met in at least six months.

Mississippi River: A portion of the river was shut down over the weekend when a tug boat sank.

Shelby County Government: State Attorney General Bob Cooper has ruled that the State has the authority to set up and run a vehicle emissions testing station in Shelby County. Cooper has also handed down an opinion that drivers should have to pay for their own inspection. The County is looking hire more reserve deputy sheriffs.

At today’s County Commission meeting, they are expected to take the final vote on a $4.38 property tax rate.

Skeeters: Here’s the city’s spray schedule.

Arkansas: Much of the state is at a moderate risk for wildfires. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is asking the State Supreme Court to dismiss nine lawsuits challenging the new execution law. The dedication of a children’s library is drawing namesake Secretary of State Hillary Clinton back home.

Memphis Police: The police union has removed the billboards they put up criticising the City Council over proposed cuts. Cutbacks in State mental health funding mean more work and more danger to local police.

Neely’s BBQ: Frank and Gina Neely unexpected closed all their Memphis restaurants last week. Only their New York City branch will remain open.

Obamacare: How will the Affordable Care Act affect Tennesseans?

Unified Shelby County Schools: The official date for the merging of City and County schools into one was last Monday. State Senator Mark Norris had remarks about the historic merger and his role. Less than a month to go before the start of school in the newly unified district. More on the “Our Children. Our Success.” program spearheaded by local non-profit agencies. Belle Forest Community School hosted a “Meet The Staff” night.

Education: Tennessee’s new teacher pay plan was drawn from many other states’ plans. TN Tech Center at Memphis has changed their name to Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).

Local Media: Television station WREG has sold to media giant Tribune Company. The deal will close by the end of the year. Radio Memphis celebrated their two year anniversary this weekend.

Pilot / Flying J: Governor Bill Haslam is having a hard time recusing himself from all aspects of the FBI investigation into his former company.

Historic Memphis: The Lee House and the Nineteenth Century Club are facing very different futures today. The Nineteenth Century Club building is most likely going to be demolished. A tour of the inside of the building. The Flyer has a story about the resurging concert scene at the Levitt Shell.

Tennessee: The state’s crisis hotline is getting a record number of calls from children. No clear answer why. The Board of Regents has raised the pay for employees at the University of Memphis. We drink less beer, per capita, than most Americans. Former Oakland bank president, Stephen Henry, of Oakland Deposit Bank, was sentenced to two years in prison for misuse of bank funds.

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Summer Heat: The sweltering temps are back and the Aging Commission of the Mid-South needs guardian angels to donate fans for seniors to keep cool. As the heat bears down, how Memphians are keeping cool.

Unemployment: Memphis has the highest unemployment rate of any major metropolitan city in America. Even as the state’s unemployment rate is high and holding steady, Governor Bill Haslam is rate high for private sector job growth. The State is holding off on planned reductions in unemployment benefits for now; more from the Daily News.

Know Your Rights! A video of a Rutherford County deputy’s DUI sobriety checkpoint stop has many lessons for citizens. The video. More from WMC.

MATA: Now is the time to speak up about proposed changes to routes and operational hours as they open a public comment period through August 25th.

Second Amendment: The Mississippi Attorney General has petitioned the state Supreme Court to vacate a restraining order against Hinds County by a county court. But the Supreme Court will not lift the restraining order. More from WMC. Confusion over the new Mississippi open carry law. Citizens held a rally in support of the new law.

State Government: Did you know that Tennessee has an Office of Repealer to remove outdated, anachronistic and obsolete laws? Answers to questions about police, flashing blue lights and funeral escorts. (PDF document) State Senator Stacey Campfield has asked the TBI to investigate who is making political “robocalls” about him. Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Director Sherwin Smith was demoted after controversial remarks about complaints and terrorism. The “sunsetting” of the Judicial Nominating Commission is leaving a troubled shadow. Opponents of the recently enacted horse slaughter legislation are now going to court. State Representative Antonio Parkinson hopes to get State law amended to allow fireworks sales inside Shelby County.

US Representative Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican, donated to the Obama inauguration committee.

Suburban Schools: Germantown had a rally on Saturday in support of a separate school system. Voters have until Thursday, July 11th, for early voting on the suburban school referenda. Early voting hours and locations.

MLG&W: Some good news this Summer as the public utility says rates are down due to the cooler, rainy weather.

Germantown: What the State took away, Arts Memphis and the National Endowment for the Arts have restored for the TN Shakespeare Company.

The Permanent Election Season: US Senator Lamar Alexander is running his first ads for his re-election. More from the Tennessean.

Downtown: After another round of shootings, the perennial question: Is the Downtown safe? Some July Fourth video. The other enduring question: traffic. The Downtown Memphis Commission has updated its strategic plan for Memphis. The Toof Building is going to be renovated into a mixed-used development, including apartments. Five groups are vying to provide office space for about 900 State workers. Although many millions have been sunk into the promised but undelivered Beale Street Landing, advocates are still asking for more support.

The changing nature of the city leads the people who placed a Christopher Columbus statue to request moving it! More from WATN.

Business: Wells Fargo plans a Home Preservation Workshop for troubled local customers; it’s free. Want to get a job at Electrolux? It’s gonna cost you.

Mississippi: The state recorded is first death of 2013 from West Nile virus. More from WMC. The state’s tax revenues have beaten their 2008 record. The State is going to test a new system for locating uninsured motorists. The mayor of Horn Lake, Joe Sanders, is taking a pay cut, to set a good example.

Overton Square: The resurgent district is posing challenges to traffic safety and control engineers.

Gasoline: Prices have begun the annual Summer slide. The current average price for gasoline in Memphis is $3.27/gallon. (Via

Picture of the Week

Artist Meredith Wilson’s studio, from Visual Memphis by Meredith Wilson. ¬©2013. You can learn more about Meredith’s art at Used with permission. Thanks to Katie Maish for the assistance.

Opinion and Blogs

eat local memphis: If you go to the Memphis Farmers Market, he recommends the Sunshine Roll.

Brian Kelsey: The TN state senator writes about his state constitutional plan for picking appelate judges. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

Gail Kerr: How term limits have affected Nashville’s Metro government. (Via the Tennessean)

Tennessean Voters should pick the attorney general, not the governor nor the judiciary. They believe the Voting Rights Act is in danger here in Tennessee.

Marsha Blackburn: The Seventh District Congresswoman asks Democrats in the Senate why they want to make higher eduction so onerous for Americans. (Via the Tennessean)

Frank Daniels III: Thoughts on the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers. (Via the Tennessean)

Lucy Shaw: Want to be free? Be the shepherd of your own thoughts. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Dr Timothy Moore: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables if you want to live a longer, healthy life. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Carlee McCullough: Life after layoffs, downsizing and retirement. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Memphis News: We have to make Memphis an easier place to visit, to imagine having fun in.

I Swear: Thoughts while on vacation in Italy. (Via the Daily News)

FUNdraising Good Times: Understanding what overhead looks like for a well-managed non-profit agency. (Via the Daily News)

Memphasis: The Declaration of Independence offers a stiff challenge to those who want to live up to it. (Via the Daily News)

Guerrilla Sales & Marketing: A smart salesman mimics their customers, subtly and smartly. (Via the Daily News)

Bryce Ashby and Michael J. LaRosa: They worry that the Republican Party will lose the votes of the millions of “undocumented” immigrants in the country, who can’t vote anyway. (Via the Flyer)

East Memphis Moms: Her son’s first time with sleepover Summer camp.

Time Flies: Climbing the Trillium Gap Trail at 35 … and loving it! The Fourth of July with family.

The Daddler and Me: Summer in the Southa and still no A/C. Another happy Comcast customer.

Theology & Geometry: Nashville really is home now. Another landmark: potty training!

The Chubby Vegetarian: There is really no wrong way to make a grilled paella. Look at how delicious this is.

Living Loud in Midtown: Biking in Memphis through rain, hail and radioactivity. His Fourth of July in Memphis.

Paul Ryburn’s Journal: This man knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July.

What is a Carbunkle Trumpet: He and Mrs Trumpet in involved in the horrors and monkey motions of moving to a new place; thankfully, still in Downtown.

Bigger Than Your Head: He’s got some weekend wine sips to recommend to you. And some rieslings from Australia, too.

The Conservative Zone: Time’s up and the “Honey Do” list is well … don’t ask. Thoughts on the Declaration of Indepenence.

The Intersection of Madness and Reality: Thoughts on the George Zimmerman trial and Rachel Jeantel.

Rembert Explains America: A long interview with director and Memphian Craig Brewer, touching on all things Memphis, including our hyper-sensitvity to our self-image.

Schooling Memphis: Who wants a Badass Teacher?

The Soundcheck and the Fury: What would Faulkner do? A short excerpt from his novel Long Gone Daddies about the Fourth of July.

Taming Insanity: An armful of children.

Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease: Real life experience with using a gun for self-protection, and some advice. How she feels about Independence Day, pretty much.

Flyer: Recent Supreme Court rulings vex them.

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