Main Street Journal - Weekly Update for Monday, July 22, 2013

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Photo Credit: Kontji Anthony, WMC
The Clock Ticks….

Shelby County Commissioners were unable to reach a consensus on a County tax rate last week and so will try again this week.

Analyis, with a focus on school funding, from the Flyer’s Jackson Baker. Comparing the numbers between Shelby and DeSoto (Mississippi) Counties. More reports from the Flyer and again. The power of a penny.

City of Memphis: The City Council has delayed closing of Fire Station Number 6 until September. Mayor A C Wharton says Memphis is not Detroit; but it depends on who you ask. More on Wharton’s comments from Fox13, WREG. The bankruptcy filing by that city was a topic of discussion for the city last week; more from WATN, the Flyer. Is it a and fair comparison? School board member Reverend Kenneth Whalum echoed the sentiment.

Ninth District US Representative Steve Cohen: After introducing constituents to his “daughter” via Twitter, Cohen was embarrassed to learn last week that the mother lied to him and he was not, in fact, the father. Why was no DNA test taken originally? And then, the story got really weird in the national press. CNN interviews Cohen. More stories from Politico, WREG, the Flyer.

Second Amendment: After the ruling in the George Zimmerman case, there are calls to “review” (with an aim to eliminating) Tennessee’s “stand your ground” laws by the Tennessee Black Caucus; their press release. More from WREG. Handgun carry permit applications more than doubled in the first six months of 2013.

Lt Governor Ron Ramsey says State law on keeping guns in private parking lots may need “clarifying” in the wake of a rulling by Attorney General Robert Cooper.

Shelby County Schools: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested a lot of money in City schools, now part of the County system. What are they hoping to achieve? Federal judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays has “>yet to rule on the expansion of the school board. More than 200 people turned out in support of Melrose High School principal Levi Pointer. Just how bad will Achievement School District TCAP scores be?

Bass Pro Pyramid: The Tennessee Watchdog highlights the $30 million plus in taxpayer subsidies the future shopping mecca has received. Wondering what they newly redesigned Pyramid will look like on the outside? It’s “classier”.

Pilot Oil / Flying J: Preliminary approval has been granted to a proposed settlement agreement between several trucking companies and Pilot Oil. More from the Daily News.

Flash Flooding: How residents can help keep storm drains from getting blocked. Pictures from last week’s flash flooding after torrential downpours.

Shelby County Government: After the bankruptcy filing of Detroit, questions are being asked about Shelby County’s pension fund, which just hit a five year high. Local watchdog is where you can learn more, as well as the County’s Retirement website.

Foreclosures in the County dropped 10.6% in 2Q/2013.

Trayvon Martin: There were Trayvon support rallies around the state on Saturday, even in Nashville. Stories on the Memphis rally from Fox13, WATN, WMC, WREG. There was also a separate but related “Just Us” event on Friday; more on that from WMC, WREG. And there was a youth-oriented “Summer Nights Lights” program emphasising youth safety.

Lorenzen Wright: A vigil was held for the basketball star on the third anniversary of his unsolved murder. More reports from WMC, WREG and a cover story from the Flyer.

Nashville: Is the state capital in the middle of an office space sales boom ? Metro schools are preparing to fire more than 60 low-rated teachers. How Charlotte Avenue is being reborn.

Tell your friends you read it here:

Hurricane Elvis: It was 10 years ago today that a severe, sudden windstorm blew Memphis briefly off the map. Remembrances from Fox13, WATN. Photo gallery from WREG, MLG&W. Personal story from Mike Hollihan.

County Municipal Schools: Now that six County communities have voted to start municipal school districts, how will they fund them? Reaction to the vote from politicians. Election aftermath from the Daily News.

Smart Meters: The Memphis power company is working to reassure customers about the benign uses they plan to implement.

Bill Giannini: The former Shelby County Election Commissioner, will not be charged in the accidental death of an eight-year old late last year. More from WATN, WREG.

MATA: Although the city’s public tranportation system is having troubles keeping routes open and fully functioning, they are looking to remodel Central Station downtown. MATA explains what’s going to change. (PDF document) They will hold two public meetings this week to educate the public.

Memphis International Airport: The last unprotected runway has now been extended with Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS).

Arkansas: Lawyers representing two abortion providers are seeking a permanent injunction on the State’s new abortion law. That state’s unemployment rate is just 7.3%. The Federal judge hearing the challenge to the State’s ban on gay marriage, Leon Holmes, has recused himself.

State Government: The Department of Safety says that wait times are down at driver services centers. Governor Bill Haslam is defending his education commissioner, Kevin Huffman, from critics of reform. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will hold a series of seminars across the state to address changes in the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013.

State Politics: Incumbent Fourth District US Congressman Scott DesJarlais is raising a mere fraction of the campaign funds his primary challengers are. One, State Representative Joe Carr, who leads in fundraising, is giving up his seat in the State’s 48th District for the run. DesJarlais is staying in the race. More from the Nashville Scene, the Tennesssean.

Our two US Senators are split on opposing the “nuclear option”. Senator Lamar Alexander is being targeted in his re-election campaign by conservatives.

Two groups that lobby for charter schools in the state are merging. Advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) place Governor Bill Haslam on their “worth watching” list of bad governors. The State lottery reported raising a record-setting $340 million for education programs. The state Republican Party is rolling out its “Red to the Roots”, to encourage local-level GOP efforts.

Tennessee: An advocacy group has identified 200 “structurally deficient” bridges in the Mid-South. The state’s unemployment rate rose at 8.5%. What in the heck is this fish, caught at Ditto Landing? A lawsuit seeks to stop prayers before Hamilton County Commission meetings.

Business: Memphis’ Top 25 largest employers added 2600 jobs to the area last year.

Downtown: The Beale Street Landing is, finally, nearing completion. If a new ordinance survives its three readings, then the city will have new parking meters this Fall.

Mosquitos: This week’s spray schedule from the Shelby County Health Department.

Mississippi: The Department of Health will receive almost $9 million in Federal funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight obesity. State day care centers will be required to keep parents’ or guardians’ fingerprints on file. As DeSoto County grows, so does its crime problem.

Local Media: This past week’s Behind the Headlines, from WKNO and the Daily News, can be found here. WREG’s Informed Sources isn’t in one location but can be viewed here, here and here.

Picture of the Week

Memphis’ first bike trail, built around 1973, just north of Cypress Creek near Evergreen Street. Courtesy of the peripatetic explorer Scott Banbury. ¬©2013. Used with permission. May require Facebook login.

Opinion and Blogs

Flyer: Facile ruminations on the George Zimmerman and O. J. Simpson trials.

Smart Stuff 4 Work: How to avoid the “This makes sense!” trap at work. (Via the Daily News)

Megan Barry: Homelessness is a community problem that also needs government and nationwide support. (Via the Tennessean)

Lt Governor Ron Ramsey: Boldness is called for in education reform. (Via the Tennessean)

Gary Moore: The AFL-CIO TN president says union membership is declining because jobs were shipped overseas. (Via the Tennessean)

Frank Daniels III: Tennessee’s “worst day”, politically speaking, showcased the opportunities of bipartisanship. (Via the Tennessean)

Tennessean: What do teachers think about education reform?

Memphis News: Economic recovery won’t happen for Memphis until we can secure more jobs.

Schooling in Memphis: She wonders what’s going on at Hanley Elementary School as it becomes a charter school this year.

Blluff City Education: A teachers’ blog that wonders if the City of Memphis will ever pony up the $57 million it owes to the schools.

Flyer: They believe the filibuster should be buried.

Jackson Baker: He has an addendum to his earlier thoughts on the Zimmerman/Martin incident. (Via the Flyer)

Knoxville News Sentinel: The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pestering the City Council to stop prayers before meetings and the paper’s suggestion is to conduct “inclusive prayers”.

Jack McElroy: In the digital age, the secret it … there are no secrets. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tom Humphrey: For Governor Bill Haslam, a modest proposal about lobbyists. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

Janet Westbrook: How one corrupt, drug-abusing judge threatened an important case. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

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