Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flashback: Pyramid's Crystal Skull

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 11:57 AM

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An alert reader wondered what I was talking about in reference to The Pyramid and Isaac Tigrett's crystal skull in a story I wrote about Bass Pro Shops a couple of weeks ago. He thought it sounded pretty cool and kind of Indiana Jones-ish.

Such overwhelming response demands an answer. Old fogey reporters have an annoying habit of dropping obscure information into columns and stories. Occupational hazard. Here's the back story, mined from our pre-Internet archives by the Flyer's crack research department, also known as the guy at the front desk.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Memphis Brand

Posted By on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 at 12:40 PM

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There are some stories about Memphis that you can spin and some that you can't.

I think Mayor A C Wharton and his new hire, our colleague and brand-manager-to-be Mary Cashiola, know the difference and the limitations of the job.

First off, Mary did a good job for us and she will do a good job for the city. People make a difference. I will miss her as a friend and colleague.

In the category of Memphis brand building, I would put selectively responding to and creating those aggravating, irresistible, superficial, badly sourced, agenda loaded, click-driven lists of America's best, worst, safest, most dangerous, smartest, most beautiful, most neighborly, healthiest, and all the rest that show up in magazines or academic studies and get recycled on web pages, on television, and in newspapers. The more serious ones can and should be responded to. They're a fact of life.

Memphis takes its lumps, but every once in a while it gets a nice windfall. The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, for example, featured a couple of numbers from the musical "Memphis." Millions of people saw that on television. I didn't see anybody rocking and rolling or dancing to the groove of Louisville, Birmingham, Jacksonville, or Indianapolis. Given the popularity of "Glee," maybe Mary can organize a giant 1,000-student production number on the river or over at Soulsviille or on Beale Street next year.

On the other hand, there are some hits Memphis deserves and simply has to deal with.

"Memphis is not competitive. It's as simple as that," from Fred Smith is one of them.

"I remember riding my bicycle through thriving neighborhoods as a kid. Now it looks like someone bombed my city," by Wharton, in the New York Times no less, is another.

The study that came out this week ranking Memphis last among Tennessee's 50 largest cities for "business friendly" environment is a third. Our property tax rate is what it is. So is our population loss. So is our schools record.

And a fourth example is Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash admitting this week that the school system needs to be rightsized by closing schools and cutting personnel. He could have added, but did not, dealing with the 10,000 to 25,000 students, by Cash's count, who don't believe in starting school in August.

So there's a place for brand management and there are limitations. I confess to not exactly seeing this as the city's most pressing need. The Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau and the mayors are supposed to be doing this already. So does the chamber of commerce and the Center City Commission. But I guess every little bit helps.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Schools Showdown

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 3:09 PM

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Memphis City Schools Board President Freda Williams doesn't support a resolution to surrender the school system's charter and merge it with Shelby County schools.

Such a resolution was offered and seconded Monday night at the regular MCS board meeting, but it won't come up until December. Given Williams' opposition, it isn't clear that the resolution would pass, and if it did pass there would have to be a voter referendum in 2011.

Williams made her comments Tuesday morning during a news conference with MCS Superintendent Kriner Cash. The board meeting ended after the late television news Monday night, so this was sort of a catch-up session. Earlier Monday, Williams and Cash met with their counterparts in the Shelby County system, David Pickler and John Aitken. Williams said they signed a "pact" but it is not binding, whatever that means.

"My position is I want to do what's best for the students of Memphis City Schools," said Williams. "I don't see the facts that support surrendering the charter."

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big Digs, Now and Then

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 2:00 PM

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There's a lot going on at the riverfront, but not at the Pyramid. Bass Pro's arrival is, at best, two years away. But at Beale Street Landing on Tom Lee Park, construction was going full speed ahead Thursday.

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Bass Pro's Pyramid Designs

Posted By on Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 11:16 AM

To go along with this week's Flyer cover story, "The World's Biggest Man Cave?" here are some additional artist's renderings of what the inside and outside of The Pyramid will look like in two years when Bass Pro opens as the city's prize tenant.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Woman Sentenced for Bribing Clerks for Car Tags

Posted By on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 2:56 PM

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Maureen Bowers, a Tennessee notary public, was sentenced to 24 months in prison Friday for her role in bribing county clerks to issue car tags.

United States District Judge Jon McCalla issued the sentence, and the announcement was made by United States Attorney Edward Stanton.

Bowers plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of harboring illegal aliens in July. She operated a business that assisted illegal aliens in getting car tags by preparing false documents and bribing clerks.

The case was investigated by state and federal authorities. City Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware has been indicted on state charges in a car tags case, but the indictment has not been publicly released while she is in the hospital so it is not clear what she allegedly did.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gulp: Bass Pro Wants $110 million

Posted By on Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 12:23 PM

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The price of getting Bass Pro Shops into The Pyramid has gone up to $110 million — almost twice the $60 million cost of the original building 20 years ago.

That's the amount of public financing sought in an application the hunting and fishing retailer filed with the Center City Revenue Finance Corporation.

Basically, the city would gut and fix up The Pyramid and Bass Pro would stock it with merchandise and attractions.

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