Main Street Journal

February 2008, Vol. 29


The Main Street Journal is the fastest growing, full color, monthly news and culture magazine in Memphis and the Mid-South. Subscribe online — it’s safe and easy!

February 2008 Cover 150

Table of Contents: February

On the River

Michael Roy Hollihan: How Your Drinking Water May Change

Shep Fargotstein: On Finances: Market Outlook 2008

Joe Saino: Do Memphis Citizens Have the Right to Petition Memphis Government?

On Repeat

Jason Middlekauff: Radiohead: In Rainbows

Judith’s Picks

Judith Conroy

Lead Article

Jonathan Lindberg: The Rise and Fall of Fred Thompson: How a presidential campaign came undone

Feature Articles

Opinion Editorial: A Good Day: Two Sensible Proposals on the Same Day

Edward F. Williams III: The Way Things Were: Court Square

Ties that Bind

Dr. David Patterson: The Biblical Reply to Environmental Paganism

On the Shelf

Jonathan Lindberg: Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu

On the Money

Chuck Bates: What it Takes to Make Your Community a Safe Place for Investment: Part III

January 2008, Vol. 28


The Main Street Journal is the fastest growing, full color, monthly news and culture magazine in Memphis and the Mid-South. Subscribe online — it’s safe and easy!

January 2008 Cover 150

Table of Contents: January

On the River

Jonathan Lindberg: Polling Polls

Michael Roy Hollihan: To the Scrap Yard

Joe Saino: Will 2008 Bring Real Change or More of the Same

Opinion Editorial

Opinion Editorial: Mayor Keith McDonald: Cooperation Not Consolidation

Judith’s Picks

Judith Conroy

Lead Article

Joe Saino: Bloated: How Mayor Herenton Has Been Able To Abuse His Appointment Power

Feature Articles

Daniel Johnson: The Triumph of Evil

Edward F. Williams III: The Way Things Were: Howard Hall

Ties that Bind

Dr. David Patterson: The Holiness of the Holy Land

On the Shelf

Jason Middlekauff: Starbucked

On the Money

Chuck Bates: What It Takes To Make Your Community a Safe Place For Investment: Part II

On the Money: What it Takes to Make Your Community a Safe Place for Investment?


Dollar Bill
The following is an excerpt from our December issue. Subscribe now.

by: Chuck Bates

Living in the same community we all have one issue in common that determines our future success or demise as a locality. We all want our community to survive economically. Whether someone is living in the most toney neighborhood or just in “the hood” we all have to make a living and in order to do that we have to attract capital to our community in the forms of new families and new businesses. Let’s face it everybody must feed, house and clothe themselves’ and that requires capital. But what does it take to retain that capital?

Capital looks for two things: 1.) Economic Stability and 2.) Political Stability. One need only look to other regions of the world to see the risk aversion of capital. Why are there no serious skyscraper lined cities in say Republic of Congo? Simply the risk to capital due to both economic and political instability overwhelms the potential reward for investing in the area. It is not due to a lack of natural resources as the nation is mineral rich. The problem lies specifically in the political upheavals and constant warring between factions thus destroying any hope of economic stability. But we don’t have to look to developing areas just look at Lebanon. Lebanon was at one point considered “The Riviera of the Middle East”. It was a business and banking center and today it is in constant turmoil due to political instability to the point new investment in such a place would be almost certain loss to the investor. Yugoslavia is another example of a nation that was on its way to modernization both politically and economically. The Winter Olympics were even held in the country but today it is a shell of a nation nowhere near where it was just two decades ago, all due to political instability and the subsequent flight of capital.

The Consolidation Campaign


Pyramid & Roads 200
The following is an excerpt from our December issue. Subscribe now.

By: Michael Roy Hollihan

It began again at the well-attended Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast in October. This was Mayor Herenton’s highest profile appearance after his record-clinching fourth re-election. He had the ears of many of Memphis and Shelby County’s biggest and most powerful business leaders and politicians. Herenton announced a lot of things, but he made sure to note that consolidation of Memphis and Shelby County governments was high on his list of priorities in his coming term.

The mayor’s been lying low ever since but the bugle call to consolidation is echoing around.

This war has been going on for many years now, and consolidation is no closer than it’s ever been. But this time it looks as though the consolidation campaign might actually gain some ground. Three fronts have opened up: education, police and charters. Each may gain a foothold.

From a chance, offhand discussion at Legislative Plaza in Nashville, a proposal has been crystallizing that would freeze the Memphis and Shelby County school districts. By changing State law to re-allow “special school districts” the boundaries for both systems would be set for years to come, regardless of geographical changes in city/county status. Both school systems could end the tricky negotiations and over-long logistical planning that goes into deciding where to build new schools. The County would no longer have to build schools with half an eye to an encroaching, consuming Memphis.

On the Shelf: The Preacher and the Presidents


Billy Graham
The following is an excerpt from our December issue. Subscribe now.

By: Jonathan Lindberg

In 1950, a young preacher named Billy Graham made his first trip to the White House to meet with President Harry Truman. Graham was already a rising star, having gained much notierity during his long-running and highly-successful Los Angeles Crusade the previous year. Now the young preacher was turning his attention to Washington. Graham had written Truman several times seeking an audience with the President.

After meeting with Truman for almost an hour, Graham and his team stopped on the White House lawn for a picture with the press, four men bowed in prayer. When the image of the young flashy preacher appeared in the newspapers the next day, Truman was furious. He figured Graham had used his visit to the White House to gain media attention. It was the last time Graham would ever visit with Truman while in office.

Though the incident ended his relationship with Truman, it also marked the beginning of the unmatched and at times limitless access Graham has enjoyed with every president since. No preacher has spent more time with more presidents than Graham. Long before the Religious Right or the Moral Majority came along, Graham became and remains the single most influential religious figure in American history.

But as Graham learned with Truman, high access comes with high costs.

December 2007, Vol. 27


The Main Street Journal is the fastest growing, full color, monthly news and culture magazine in Memphis and the Mid-South. Subscribe online — it’s safe and easy!

December 2007 cover 150

Table of Contents: December

On the River

Michael Roy Hollihan: The Consolidation Campaign

Joe Saino: The Reverse MLGW Christmas Carol

Redmond Wallace: Blues City Pastry Shop

On the Road

Nicholas Carraway: U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Judith’s Picks

Judith Conroy

Feature Articles

Dr. Thomas Lindberg: A Christmas I Will Never Forget

Dr. Ernie Frey: Culture Overboard: Drowning in a Sea of Good Choices

Senator Jim Kyle: Tough but Necessary Choices

Ties That Bind

Dr. David Patterson: Teachings on the Stranger

On the Shelf

Jonathan Lindberg: The Preacher and the Presidents: Billy Graham in the White House

On the Money

Chuck Bates: On the Money: What it takes to make your Community a Safe Place for Investment

How Memphis City Government is Spending Your Money on Lavish Attorney Fees


Joe Saino
The following is an excerpt from our November issue. Subscribe now.

By: Joe Saino

November is a very significant month for me as it was three years ago in November 2004 when I started on my journey of enforcing the Tennessee open records laws on a reluctant group of local government institutions and quasi government bodies. I started with the City of Memphis by requesting from Sara Hall the information about how much had Allan Wade and his law firm been paid by the City and by the City Council during the years 2003 and 2004.

Sara acknowledged my open records request promptly and then never responded further until I filed suit in Chancery Court in February of 2005. Only then did I get the information.

Allan Wade has the best of both worlds. He is a part time employee of the City Council as their part time attorney and received at that time a salary of $58,000 per year plus of course the roll-up cost that all city employees receive. Also he is on the City pension system and has health insurance with the City paying 70% of the cost. His salary then was increased from $58,000 to $80,000 per year and in addition to that, he was paid $250,913.75 for legal fees in 2004 and had received $165,446.93 in 2005 up to March of that year.

Hiding the Light: Turmoil at the Commercial Appeal


Commercial Appeal Building
The following is an excerpt from our November issue. Subscribe now.

By: Michael Roy Hollihan

Something very important happened at the Commercial Appeal in October, a revelation of huge importance for readers and for Memphis. So important, in fact, that there was very nearly a revolt in the newsroom.

But if you didn’t read a couple of websites here in Memphis, you’d have never known about it. In fact, you may still not know about it.

On October 16th, the Smart City Memphis blog published a scathing post revealing that the daily had a deal with FedEx whereby a series of upcoming articles, to be called “Memphis and the World,” would be “sponsored” by FedEx. This wasn’t just selling advertising, and it wasn’t a themed special section where advertisers would be recruited around lighter, feature stories. This was front page, hard journalism that would carry a “sponsored by FedEx” notice above every story. Think of “advertorials.” Those text-heavy advertisements that are made to look like a part of the paper, where you have to search for the “advertisement” label to be sure are another similar tactic.

The writer, Trevor Aaronson, had no idea of the sponsorship deal when he left town to research his stories. It was only after his return that he learned of the sponsorship. After a heated meeting with Commercial Appeal Editor in Chief Chris Peck, he refused to write anything under that arrangement. Shortly thereafter, the deal fell apart and now the series may be in limbo.

The newsroom was in turmoil as word of the deal and Aaronson’s treatment got around. Reporters and editors were angry that a fundamental rule of journalism had been breached. A petition of protest was put together and circulated around 495 Union Avenue, gaining over 70 signatures within days, from every department of the newspaper.

Political Notebook, November 2007


Notebook & PencilThe following is from our November issue. Subscribe now.

. . . Mayor AC Wharton seems intent on raising taxes in Shelby County in 2008 . . . speaking to a group in Nashville last month, Mayor Wharton indicated that he would seek state legislative approval to institute some sort of new ‘local tax’ to help fund the Regional Medical Center or public safety . . . apparently the County is not sure where they will spend their new ‘revenue’ just yet . . . or for that matter, which particular tax they will raise . . . Wharton was quoted as saying, “What we need to do is let the people decide what they would like in revenue sources other than property and sales taxes.” . . . since when did taxes become revenue sources for the people? . . . how about cutting our bloating budget to help pay for insolvent programs instead of raising taxes? . . . as County Register Tom Leatherwood pointed, “this makes the tax sound almost like revenue for, rather than from the person paying” . . . really, is anybody being fooled? . . . Wharton did indicate that one possible solution would be a privilege tax on jobs paying above a certain undetermined income level, which would then allow the county to tax commuters from out of county or out of state for work done in Shelby County. . . . doesn’t really seem like the best way to promote business in Shelby County . . . . when asked why Shelby County could not just make cuts in its already bloated budget to secure solvency for the Regional Medical Center, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz indicated, “we have a spending problem”.

. . . Harold Ford Jr. was in the news last month . . . and not over his recent engagement . . . seems Ford was in Nashville meeting with state Democratic leaders about a possible run for Governor in 2010 . . . it came as little surprise that just two weeks after, U.S. Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN) announced that he was officially running for Governor in 2010 . . . Lincoln, the former campaign chair for Ford Jr. during his 2006 Senate campaign, seems intent on clearing the field early . . . way early! . . . a number of candidates are already rumored to be hedging their bets for a run, including Republican Congressman Zack Wamp (R-TN), who reportedly already has nearly two million dollars in his campaign war chest and would most likely have the endorsement and support of friend and newly elected Senator Bob Corker.

. . . consolidation between Memphis and Shelby County Governments seems to be coming . . . at least that is what the Shelby County School Board is seems to be anticipating . . . in response to another four-year term by pro-consolidation incumbent Willie Herenton, the Shelby County School Board has revved up efforts again to seek state legislation which would protect Shelby County Schools from any consolidation attempts by instituting Special School Districts . . . basically the city and county could consolidate but the school systems would be kept separate . . . the idea has been floated around before and continues to be met with heavy opposition by the Memphis City Schools . . .

. . . talk about awkward . . . U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen and lawyer Nikki Tinker seem to be showing up at the same events . . . in 2006, Cohen defeated Tinker to win the Democratic nomination for the 9th Congressional seat . . . almost the day after Cohen won the general election, Tinker declared herself a candidate for 2008 . . . since then, she has been working aggressively with leaders within the black community to help clear the field, so that what happened in 2006 (fifteen candidates on the Democratic ticket and a diluted field) does not happen again . . . its seems Cohen could hear the approaching footsteps before he even started . . . the same month Cohen was sworn into office, he was back in Memphis holding a fundraiser for his reelection campaign, then two years away . . . that is called the permanent campaign ladies and gentlemen . . . so does anyone still think two year terms for members of the U.S. House is a good idea?

Bulldog: The Making of Mike Fleming


Mike FlemingThe following is an excerpt from our November issue. Subscribe now.

By: Richard Thompson

An hour had passed. The Mike Fleming Radio Program starts promptly at 4 p.m. on Newsradio 600WREC, and its conservative host was prepping himself and his audience with breathless monologue in anticipation of the late arrival of Mike Fleming’s prized and elusive guest, “King Willie,” a respectful (or discourteous?) moniker for Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

It’s a Thursday, one week after Herenton, 67, won his fifth consecutive term in office as historically, as easily and as contentiously as Fleming had predicted all along much to the chagrin of his listeners—mostly male, older, conservative and likely white who depend upon the 65-year-old, veteran journalist to be one of Herenton’s chief critics.

Fleming is like his core audience, he is their voice—arguably their conscience, having nagged them with the inevitable about the city’s first, and only, African American mayor. Herenton’s challengers had no chance, Fleming argued more than once. Whatever. It didn’t matter now with Herenton en-route to 2560 Thousand Oak Drive, where Clear Channel Radio Memphis houses WREC and its six other radio stations.

In Memphis, WREC is the dominant news/talk station; though its lineup boasts nationally syndicated talking heads like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, Mike Fleming clearly mans the station’s top locally-produced program, airing from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and one of the longest running in the city.