For the last four years, I've been privileged to know some of the most interesting, assertive, intelligent, bad-ass women (and men) I've ever met as part of Memphis Roller Derby (MRD). But now they're in a bit of a bind.
For the last season, the league has been practicing and bouting at the Youth Building on the Mid-South Fairgrounds. But with the city's effort to clean up the property for redevelopment, the Youth Building will be demolished.
As of this week, MRD's contract to lease the building has expired, and the new season is set to start in February.
The league plans to bout temporarily, at least back at the Funquest in Collierville. But the league is also interested in finding a more permanent and centrally located home.
MRD is looking for a space that's about 12,000 to 15,000 square feet with a large, open expanse without poles (Poles, while good for support, are not great for roller girls or their hardworking referees). The venue should also have ample parking and restroom facilities.
If you know of such a place or better yet, own or lease one the league asks that you email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the Memphis City Council comes back its first meeting on the 12th, it will be looking to make at least $10 million in mid-year budget cuts in order to fund a payment to the Memphis City Schools.
Memphis mayor A C Wharton will be bringing proposed cuts to the council, including consolidating services within city government and with county government, but he could not say how many jobs he thought might be effected or cut.
The council hasn't voted on terms of the payment, but a proposal on the table includes taking $30 million from the city's reserve fund, cutting $10 million, and giving the school system $10 million in debt forgiveness (for money the city says it's owed by the schools).
It's been said that this is a rainy day for local government, but it's not a storm that couldn't have been predicted.
I'm going to admit something here. I really didn't understand the Greyhound bus controversy until last week. I hadn't been following it all that closely and I assumed that the grand jury would do its thing and either indict former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton — or not — and then maybe all the juicy evidence and details of alleged wrongdoing would spill out.
And then I went to MATA's specially called December board meeting to approve the construction contract on the new airport-area bus terminal, and realized that the between the city, the state, and the federal government, the taxpayers are essentially buying Greyhound a brand new facility.
Now, to be fair, Greyhound is paying $2.5 million for construction of the facility.
But the federal government is paying $10.3 million, the state $2 million, and the city almost $1 million.
(I'm paraphrasing, of course.)
From the story:
"It may not be the advertising version of 'Mission: Impossible,' but it is certainly a challenging, if not daunting, task: produce a campaign to encourage young and creative people to consider Detroit as a place to live and work.
Cue the Lalo Schifrin theme music.
The effort, called Selling Detroit, is upfront about its intent. 'America’s most struggling city needs to attract business and talent,' a description of the contest begins."
Five advertising agencies in Detroit agreed to take part, and TIME donated all of the ads to the city of Detroit.
The entries are after the jump:
City budget hearings generally happen in the spring.
But, facing a possible property tax hike for city schools, the City Council will begin special budget hearings Thursday, December 17th.
After being presented with four options to cover a $54 million settlement for the city schools — including a 45 cent tax increase — council members opted to look for cuts first.
"In June of last year, we had these exact same conversations. I think we made the wrong choice back in June when we gave a 3 percent raise, when we didn't cut travel budgets or eliminate vacant positions," said Council member Jim Strickland.
City Council members had questions today after learning that the city had entered into a 50-year lease with the University of Memphis for 50 on-street parking spaces on Court Avenue.
Under the lease, which was executed seven months ago under mayor pro tem Myron Lowery, the U of M will pay the city $1 a year for the spaces. Lowery said the deal had already been negotiated when he took office.
"My concern comes from a couple of things," said council member Jim Strickland. "We apparently get $25,000 per year for those spots. Last year, we approved the budget based on the assumption that we'd get $25,000 [in parking-meter revenue]."
The City Council's Housing and Community Development committee this morning approved extending Bass Pro Shops' lease on the Pyramid for an additional three months.
Bass Pro has been paying the city $35,000 a month while it does its due diligence on the facility, but the lease is set to expire at the end of December.
"I think we're down to insurance issues and structural integrity issues," Housing and Community Development head Robert Lipscomb told the committee.
Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware asked when the Bass Pro project might be a reality and Lipscomb said it would take at least another six to eight months.
"I have to say be patient. We don't have a viable alternative," Lipscomb said. "Second, the payoff is so huge it will be worth the wait. ... We're going to try to get this thing done with all deliberate speed. We're down to the flood wall and seismic issues but we hope to get them resolved by the first quarter of next year."
Graduates aren't the only ones who get a little extra cash after they finish college. So do the cities where they live and work.
According to Carol Coletta, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, "If you want to know how well Memphis is doing when it comes to economic development, there is only one figure you need to know: the percentage of the population who have four-year degrees."
Yesterday, Leadership Memphis and CEOs for Cities announced the Memphis Talent Dividend's College Attainment Initiative. The goal of the program is to increase the college attainment rate in Memphis by just one percent, thus resulting in a $1 billion talent dividend for the metro area.
Memphis currently ranks 48th out of the nation's 51 largest cities in terms of the percentage of the population who have a college degree.
Buildings on the north side of Overton Square got a 60-day reprieve Wednesday night.
Fisher Capital planned to ask the Memphis City Council for approval to demolish the buildings but, after a discussion with members of Memphis Heritage, Save Overton Square, and other community groups, decided to postpone the request for 60 days.
For those who want to see the buildings saved, however, it might not be enough.
"We are to the point that we could not make redevelopment of those buildings work," said Fisher Capital's Tom Lowe.
Tonight, Monday, December 7th, Cornell University professor Pierre Clavel will speak about "America's Progressive Cities: Lessons for Contemporary Urban Reformers."
Clavel recently completed his book, "Progressive Cities in the United States, 1969-2007." He also wrote "Opposition Planning in Wales and Appalachia," "Reinventing Cities," and "The Progressive City: Planning and Participation. "The Progressive City" is considered required reading for most graduate programs in urban planning and explores the development efforts of activist government leaders in Hartford, Cleveland, and Berkeley:
"In a period when urban coalitions built upon the problems of urban renewal, highways and downtown development became passe and unstable, these cities experimented with radically new forms of participation, public enterprise, property regulation, service structure, and neighborhood involvement."
Tonight's lecture is part of a public lecture series hosted by West Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association, the U of M's graduate program in city and regional planning and the school of urban affairs and public policy. It will be held at the Fogelman Executive Conference Center, Room 123, from 6:30-8 p.m.
For more info, call 678-2161.
In 1998, the factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts was in the middle of a transformation.
Fourteen years before, Sprague Electric has closed its doors for good, leaving half the town's 8,000 adult residents without jobs. But with a $35 million economic development grant, the former Sprague Electric campus was now become home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (or Mass MoCA).
Filmmaker Nancy Kelly, a North Adams native, set out to see if "something as ephemeral as contemporary art can breathe life into a dying city."
"How could it be possible that tens of thousands of tourists would flock to the post industrial wasteland North Adams had become? To see contemporary art? It seemed crazy, impossible," Kelly said in her director's statement. "But I knew from personal experience how over the past 10 years, the Jesse Helms of this world had viciously attacked art as a waste. So if art could do some good in North Adams, as a filmmaker, I wanted the world to know."
Her resulting film, Downside Up, will be screened this Sunday, December 6th, at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in connection with the UrbanArt Commission. It starts at 2 p.m. and is free for members; $5 for non-members.
To view the film's trailer, click here.
Skatelife Memphis announced today it received the $2,500 it won though Nike's online Back Your Block competition.
The group is planning to build a 20 feet by 30 feet mini-halfpipe at the Greenlaw Community Center with the funds. The exact date of the build is not yet determined, but it should be sometime around the new year.
The Nike grant covers two-thirds of the costs for materials, but Skatelife Memphis is still trying to raise the rest. Interested parties can buy materials at Lowe's or Home Depot and drop them off at the community center at 190 Mill Avenue.
For more information on what materials to purchase or to donate by paypal, go to skatelifememphis.org.
The Memphis City Council wants the administration to consider letting affluent neighborhoods pay for their own traffic calming devices, if the street qualifies.
This morning, during the council's CIP budget committee, council members learned citizens have requested street humps for roughly 250 streets. The current policy does not let individual groups pay for them, even if they want to do so.
"We looked at it from a fairness [standpoint]," said Wain Gaskins, director of the city's engineering division. "There are some affluent areas that could pay for their traffic calming devices, but we have a lot of other areas that aren't as affluent but are just as deserving.
"We thought it would be appropriate not to let people buy their way into the program."
The policy is created by the administration, but traditionally changes have been approved by the council.