Main Street Journal - Weekly Update for Monday, June 10, 2013

The Main Street Journal Website

Photo Credit:
Slicing A Shrinking Pie

Surprising the Memphis City Council, Memphis mayor AC Wharton unveiled an overhauled budget plan; one that is a “reset”. Mayor Wharton is proposing a new tax rate of $3.51, though he said that number could drop. He also proposed 400 layoffs and fewer paid leave days. More from the Daily News. City Council members proposed much tamer alternatives. The council meeting descended into “bickering” and “deep seated differences”. The next budget goal: consensus?

WREG identifies $22 million in overtime pay for City employees. Families of City employees are worried. Unions are already fighting to keep their jobs. The cost of insurance for City employees will go up.

Today’s problems with the budget, both from the State and in the City Council, stem from a 2010 debt restructuring arrangement called “scoop and toss”. Though all sides argue otherwise. Memphis is far from the only community having debt problems related to “scoop and toss”.

Councilman Joe Brown got into hot water for saying “Damn it, I wouldn’t want to live there,” referring to crime in his own district.

Unified Shelby County Schools: Some coaches are upset by a plan to unify lawn treatment under one outside firm.

Shelby County Budget Talks: The County Commission gave the first positive vote (of three required) to raise the County’s tax rate. The commission tries to strip Mayor Luttrell’s budget. The County’s pension fund has reached a new high. Luttrell also says the City of Memphis has one more fiscal year left to conduct auto inspections.

Midtown Redevelopment: Midtown areas are in the news lately for their redevelopment efforts like Overton Square. The Cooper-Young Business Association wants $3.4 million from the City for a neighborhood parking garage.

Chisca Hotel: An update on the rehabilitation of the venerable old hotel.

Education: State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) has released a poll (PDF document) showing that most citizens support the Common Core State standards; more. State legislators are alleging bias in some State textbooks. The State Senate Education Committee will hold “fact finding” sessions later this year.

US Senator Lamar Alexander proposed a bill to remove the Department of Education from local schools’ “adequate yearly progress” decisions.

Summer in the City: The City’s public pools opened for the Summer season this past weekend; more from WREG, WMC, Fox13. New requirements are in place for public pool users in Memphis. Memphis scores low, by the Trust for Public Land, on public park accessibility. Two workers were fired for playing vulgar music over the Mud Island monorail.

A dog park may be coming to Mud Island; it would cost $100,000.

Delta Air Lines: The company has decided to “de-hub” Memphis. More on the departure from WREG. The airline will sharply cut back jobs and flights. The Business Journal calls it a “crushing blow”. The Delta memo breaking the news. (PDF document) Will Memphis’ airport go the way of Cincinnati’s? The City of Memphis will help the 200 laid off workers find new jobs. Public reaction from WREG.

Ninth District Congressman Steve Cohen details the airline’s “string of broken promises”. More from Cohen, via WREG. Is there a silver lining in the departure? Southern Airways Express hopes to move into the void left by Delta.

Tennessee: Memphis isn’t the only city where citizens feel shortchanged by Downtown development. Nashville is expanding its downtown redevelopment over to the west bank of the
Cumberland River. Five hundred years later, the Southern Baptist Convention is still debating the core tenet of Calvinism.

Survey Says! Memphis is ranked the fourth cheapest city to live in.

Memphis Botanic Garden: A teddy bear picnic this Saturday morning at the MBG. It’s a family event, with lots for the kids to do, and tickets start at only $20 for the kids.

Nuclear Power: Tennessee will be the first state to roll out small modular nuclear reactors.

Tell your friends you read it here:

Bass Pro Pyramid: Downtowners won a partial victory with a redesign of the exerior of the Pyramid. Fox13 has a first look inside the newly remodelled building. It is scheduled now to open in Fall 2014.

Second Amendment: Even though it’s soon allowed by State law, many school systems say they do not foresee gun carry by teachers.

Southaven Elections: Controversial Southaven mayor Greg Davis decisively lost his effort at re-election on Tuesday. Davis, running as an independent, lost to Republican challenger Darren Musselwhite, whose post-election agenda isn’t clear. Citizens’ groups are pleased by the result.

Other election results, via WREG. Davis, meanwhile, is fighting for custody of his children.

Mississippi: The new mayor of Clarksdale has big plans for civic revitalisation. Also the Clarksdale NAACP is still unsatisfied with answers over the murder of mayoral candidate Marco McMillian. Unfortunately, there were more questions than answers at their weekend forum. The State Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Leslie Galloway III. The state’s economy grew 2.4% in 2012. State Democrats want to expand Medicaid to add 300,000 people.

State Government: State Representative Antonio Parkinson took video during his trip to Turkey, where public protests are underway. The Department of Children’s Services is coming undier fire for exorbitant fees for releasing public records. Is Governor Bill Haslam “flying high” in his first term? Republican State Senator Frank Niceley is proposing that any new revenues from out-of-state retail Internet taxes be used to offset the State grocery tax. Advocates for expanding TennCare now have an online petition. Efforts to lower the BAC DUI level in TN to .05% are “at least three years away”. Critics are decrying US Representative Stephen Fincher’s stance against food stamps when he gets Federal farm subsidies.

Miscellaneous political tidbits from Tom Humphrey at the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Political Notebook from the Nashville Tennessean. Even though the Judicial Nominating Commission is going out of existence at the end of the month, they will still nominate judges for positions opening up later next year.

Pilot Flying J: One of the companies allegedly involved in the company’s fuel surcharge scandal, Western Express, had Pilot Flying J buy a suplus airplane of theirs. There are questions about R. Brad Martin’s role and history in defending PFJ.

Business: According to the Workforce Investment Network, Shelby County will see some 4000 new manufacturing jobs by 2016. The Federal government rates Tennessee as the eighth fastest growing State in the nation. The future of downtown real estate is State and Federal growth?

Islam in Tennessee: A planned speech by Federal US attorney Bill Killian on Muslim civil rights resulted in a capacity crowd in Manchester. The Associated Press has the story. The American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee says their meeting was hijacked by instigators.

Memphis Parks: A lawsuit was filed and now a citizens group is fighting the renaming of three Memphis parks.

MLGW: At a public meeting to explain “smart meters” to citizens, the public utility got more than it bargained for.

Local Media: Say, where’s Wendi? Former Commercial Appeal theater critic Chris Blank has been hired by WKNO-FM as their News Director.

Memphis Animal Shelter: A worker was found guilty of animal abuse. Billy Stewart may get up to two years, or probation. Two other workers got plea deals. More from WMC, Fox13.

Traffic: Traffic nightmares continue thanks to contruction at Poplar Avenue and Mendenhall. A broken gas main at the intersection didn’t help matters. More on that from WATN.

Stormy Weather: Was a funnel cloud spotted just west of Memphis this week? A non-stop rainy season is responsible for problems with Mississippi crops.

Arkansas: Former State Treasurer Martha Ann Shoffner was indicted last week on bribery and extortion charges. West Memphis High School principal Jon Collins has been hired as the new superintendent of the West Memphis City School District. Governor Mike Beebe has added three more counties to the State’s disaster list.

Juneteenth: This year’s festival is coming this weekend to Douglass Park.

Memphis Zoo: Neighbors are complaining about the trash accumulating around the park. The crowds at Free Tuesday are blamed.

Picture of the Week

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a … oh, never mind. It’s just the Met Life blimp near Olive Branch, Mississippi. From Twitter by Tom Guleff. ©2013. Tom also has a blog, Joe Citizens. Used with permission.


Knoxville News Sentinel: Tennesee’s top legislators would do well to not count on internet sales tax revenues before they actually happen. They also call for Governor Bill Haslam to expand Medicaid.

Pam Strickland: The public meeting in Coffee County this week, where anti-Muslim protesters spoke out against Islam, is pure First Amendment in action. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

Fred Brown: The eyes of Normandy/D-Day assault veterans say it all. (Via the Knoxville News Sentinel)

Kenya Nelson Stevens and Jay Everett: The Amp (the city’s proposed city rapid transit mass transport system) will be a “breakthrough” for the City of Nashville. (Via the Tennessean)

Frank Daniels III: This week marks the 42nd anniversary of Cohen vs. California, the Supreme Court’s landmark obscenity ruling. Also, is our Federal government getting a bit too intimate? (Via the Tennessean)

Richard Grant: The lessons of history are clear: Bigger government tends to corrupt. (Via the Tennessean)

Gerry Calhoun: Thorium, as in small modular nuclear power plants, is the best choice to power America’s power plants. (Via the Tennessean)

Lucy Shaw: Five steps to curing “comparison fever”. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

vibinc: Talking about the Memphis budget talks, Steve says “You cannot cut your way to prosperity or health.”

Smart Stuff 4 Work: Using archaeology to divine the future of the workplace. (Via the Daily News)

Mel and Pearl Shaw: Asking “Why?” can transform your organisation’s giving. (Via the Daily News)

Guerrilla Sales & Marketing: Differences between genders should guide your advertising choices. (Via the Daily News)

Memphasis: Learning to see with the eyes of an architect. (Via the Daily News)

The Memphis News: They offer a few budget suggestions.

The Rant: He points the finger of blame squarely at white, right-wing, Southern Christian crazies despite conflicting evidence. (Via the Memphis Flyer)

Charles Sims Jr: The time to start planning your business for the Affordable Care Act is already past. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Carlee McCullough: There is no shortage of civic foundations supporting the arts in Memphis. (Via the Tri-State Defender)

Flyer: There are right ways and wrong ways to handle government budget discussions.