Thursday, June 25, 2009

Reaction to Herenton's Resignation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Herenton reaction from Dick Hackett, Jim Gilliland, Susan Adler Thorp, Julian Bolton, and others.

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Updated: Herenton will make "special announcement"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 10:17 AM

News media were notified Thursday that Mayor Willie Herenton will make "a special announcement" at 11:30 a.m. in City Hall.

There were no details in the e-mail from the mayor's office. City Council Chairman Myron Lowery, who would become interim mayor if Herenton resigns, said he was not told to be there and does not know the nature of the announcement.

Fueled by staff departures and the mayor's apparently sincere interest in running for Congress, the chatter level about an imminent Willie Herenton resignation has moved to orange, and maybe borderline red.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Maxine Smith Says She's Pro-Cohen

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Memphis civil rights legend Maxine Smith says her support of Congressman Steve Cohen has more to do with Cohen than it does with any perceived loss of confidence in Mayor Willie Herenton.

"I just think Steve is doing a good job as congressman," said Smith on Monday in a brief telephone interview. "It has nothing to do with Mayor Herenton on his merits. I supported him every time he's run for mayor and will continue to support him as mayor."

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Memphis Fall Girl

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 1:20 PM

The latest indictment of Laura Pendergest-Holt in the Stanford Financial scandal alleges that she lied to investigators and investors, but it also indicates that she was thrown to the wolves of the Securities Exchange Commission by Allen Stanford and her Mississippi benefactor, James Davis.

Holt, 35, who worked out of the Crescent Center in East Memphis, gave financial advise on local radio stations, and grew up in Baldwyn, Mississippi, was indicted this week for the second time on federal criminal charges.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is Downtown a Potemkin Village?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 9:17 AM

The Russians supposedly called them Potemkin villages — elaborately constructed fake villages designed by Grigory Potemkin, lover of Russian empress Catherine the Great. True or not, the term has come to represent any fake construct that hides underlying poverty, decay, and abandonment.

With the bankruptcy of the Horizon high-rise condo project on the South Bluff and the foreclosure sale of One Commerce Square office building in the downtown core adding to an already long list of problem properties such as The Pyramid, do we have our own Potemkin Village?

Architect and planner Tony Bologna, who has worked in downtown Memphis since 1964, has some thoughts.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Herenton's Three Rs

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Blogger Tom Jones speculates about the possibility of a Herenton resignation this summer and the chain of events that would set in motion. But should there be a third "R" in the equation — first the mayor decides to run for Congress, then he resigns, then he gets a reprieve from federal investigators?

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

More on Nashville and Memphis Riverfronts

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Comparisons of Memphis and Nashville are usually a fool's errand, but when the shoe fits . . .

Here's an interesting contrarian comment from a Nashville website about Nashville's proposed $7 million riverfront improvements approved this week by the city council: "As crappy as Memphis is, Tom Lee Park is awesome and Memphis in May is great. We cannot have anything like that in Nashville with our little strip of grass and floating barge on July 4th."

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nashville's $7 Million River Park

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 9:51 AM

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While Memphis pours $33 million into Beale Street Landing and figures out what to do with $62 million Mud Island River Park which is closed half the year, Nashville is moving ahead with a $7 million free public river park with water slides, spray park, playground, playing fields, and skate park.

The Nashville City Council approved the project Tuesday, as Nashville television station WSM reported.
It will be located on the east side of the Cumberland river across from downtown and next to the Tennessee Titans stadium.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Memphis Water Rights Upheld

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 1:25 PM

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The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision that rejected a claim by the state of Mississippi seeking payment for water in the Memphis Sands Aquifer.

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Dozier's SAT Questioned

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 11:39 AM

ESPN.com is reporting that former Memphis Tiger basketball star Robert Dozier made a 720 on his SAT after making a 1260 on his first attempt in 2003.
University of Memphis officials will be in Indianapolis Saturday to meet with the NCAA on questions about Derrick Rose's SAT scores. The Dozier matter is not part of that investigation.

The Budget Game

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Give the Memphis City Council credit for this: Members are putting in a lot of late hours trying to come up with a budget, working past 9 p.m. several times this week.

But they'll never get to $50 million in cuts if they stay focused on $7,500 expenses for travel and meals for council members. That's like dieting by cutting the pickle on the sandwich.

At the other extreme, watch for a "Hail Mary" as talks wind down — possibly a pitch for a payroll or privilege tax to take pressure off the property tax and shift some of the tax burden to those who work in Memphis but live outside the city.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How Rose and U of M Ran out the Clock

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Derrick Rose and the University of Memphis employed a similar strategy when confronted with allegations of cheating by the NCAA: We can't be blamed and held responsible for what we say we don't know.

The shenanigans will come to an end on Saturday in a hearing behind closed doors in Indianapolis. It will be a long day for university officials who made a risky bet on a risky star athlete and will now see their excuses scrutinized by experienced examiners who, unlike the testing service's forensic document examiner that the U of M tries to discredit in its report, will be able to bite back.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Inquiry in Indy

UM tells NCAA Rose denied faking SAT and was in good standing.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Opposing players weren’t the only ones who had trouble trapping basketball star Derrick Rose during the 2008 season. While the University of Memphis was in the midst of its run to the NCAA Finals, the Educational Testing Service was sending letters to Rose to try to clear up questions about his entrance exams.

The test police, and the letters, never caught up to Rose, and it was a month after the tournament that the university learned that Rose’s SAT score had been invalidated due to suspicions that someone else took the test for him. So in the off-court equivalent of the biggest game of the season, the University of Memphis will tell the NCAA on Saturday that it could not have known that Rose was ineligible in the 2007-2008 season and therefore should not be penalized.

“Certainly, the University of Memphis should not suffer a financial penalty or vacation of records for the 2008 NCAA tournament as a result of this allegation,” the university says in records it released to the media Tuesday morning. The Inquiry in Indy will include President Shirley Raines, Athletic Director R. C. Johnson, legal counsel, and – via teleconference – former heard coach John Calipari. Rose and current head coach Josh Pastner will not attend. A decision could take eight more weeks.

The 63-page “Response to NCAA Notice of Allegations” doesn’t clear up the mystery of Rose and the SAT entrance exam. There were rumors about Rose getting someone to take his ACT or SAT test in 2007, but the unnamed female accuser changed her story. Another rumor that Rose got a grade changed in one course was also investigated by the Chicago schools and the University of Memphis but was deemed irrelevant to his admission. Rose took both the ACT and the SAT more than once, suggesting he needed to improve his score. His mother would not even tell him what his scores were after he took the test, but would only say whether he passed it or needed to take it again. The NCAA, relying on a forensic document examiner as well as allegations, concluded that Rose probably did not take his own SAT, but the university did not know that while Rose was playing ball. Rose, according to the report, said he did take his own tests when he was asked about that before the 2008 NCAA tournament, but he “has declined to participate further in the investigation of his ineligibility.” He now plays for the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.

The university interviewed Rose about possible grade changes and test fakery in 2007 after the rumors surfaced. The basketball coaches didn’t know when he took the tests or what his scores were. The scores are blacked out in the exhibits attached to the report.

The bottom line:

“The University does not have sufficient information to conclude that (redacted) engaged in unethical conduct in regard to (redacted) taking of the SAT. Specifically, the university has no knowledge that (Rose) did not complete the SAT. Accordingly, the University does not know whether the information included in the allegation is substantially correct and is unable to conclude whether a violation of the cited NCAA regulations has occurred.”

The university got a notice of allegations on January 16, 2009, but did not disclose it until a reporter forced it to last week.

In a post on the university’s website, Lipman addressed that.

“Although we knew the gist of what was to be contained in the notice of allegations, we had not seen the actual document and the specifics of what was alleged. Once we received the notice, we had approximately 90 days to respond, based on a review of all the evidence.

“If we had released the notice in January of 2009, as suggested by some, we could not have "gotten out in front of the issue" by answering everyone's questions because we were still engaged in our review, our follow-up on certain aspects of the allegations, and our drafting of a response.

“Even today, the University is crippled in its ability to respond to questions about these issues. We appear before the Committee on Infractions on Saturday, June 6. That Committee is charged with the responsibility to adjudicate this matter, and to pre-judge how they will view things is inappropriate and presumptuous. The Committee has the right and the power to act as they see fit, without the University "trying the case" in the court of public opinion.”

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM Shutting Down Spring Hill Plant

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 10:28 AM

The General Motors auto factory in Spring Hill in Middle Tennessee is one of 14 scheduled to be idled in another blow to the Tennessee economy.

Spring Hill was home of the Saturn, “a different kind of car from a different kind of car company,” from the time production began in 1990 until 2007. GM began making the Chevy Traverse crossover vehicle at Spring Hill, but announced Monday that the factory will be shut down but could possibly reopen later.

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