Memphian Scott Beall has spent around $6,000 on flat-screen products, but he'll likely soon be getting some of that money back. Beall is the class action representative for Tennessee in the largest anti-trust consumer class action lawsuit in history.
The lawsuit was filed against 10 LCD flat-screen television manufacturers, namely Au Optronics, Chimei, Chunghwa, Epson, Hannstar, Hitachi, LG, Sharp, Samsung, and Toshiba, for conspiring to raise and fix prices on flat screen LCD panels and products containing those panels. The manufacturers have agreed to pay an unprecedented settlement of $1.1 billion.
Any Tennessee consumer who purchased a flat-screen product from one of the above-mentioned companies between January 1999 and December 2006 is eligible to receive a payment from the settlement. The deadline to file a claim is December 6th.
“I was ticked off when I discovered that all the prices were the same and there was no competitive pricing," Beall said. "Consumers were over-charged for these products, and they need to take advantage of this opportunity, file a claim, and receive some compensation.”
To file a claim, go here. Filing a claim does not require proof of purchase or receipts.
At 8:30 a.m., the Memphis Police Department received an anonymous tip that someone was planning to blow up the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar, the Federal Building at 167 N. Main, and the main US Post Office at 555 S. Third.
The US Post Office and the Federal Building were evacuated while the locations, including 201 Poplar, were searched. No bombs have been located, according to the latest information from the Memphis Police Department.
The Memphis Area Transit Authority evacuated all trolleys at 9 a.m. Spokesperson Alison Burton said trolley service resumed around 11:30 a.m.
The Memphis City Council's public works and transportation committee passed a resolution this morning to establish a hotline where citizens can report blight and problems with rental properties.
The resolution is sponsored by councilman Edmund Ford Jr., who told council members the new hotline would incorporate reserve city code enforcement officers to address the citizens' reported concerns.
"We can't be the eyes of the entire city because of how big the city is," Ford said.
But public works director Dwan Gilliom told the council he was concerned about rolling out a full-blown call center for blight reports when the planned 311 information line could handle those calls. The 311 line is already taking public works and sanitation-related calls, and it will launch for all citizen calls in January.
"It's difficult enough to keep up with the calls we already have coming in," Gilliom said.
Three members of Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (H.O.P.E.), a homeless advocacy organization, were cited for "obstructing a sidewalk" last night as they were leaving their regular Thursday night meeting at the Manna House on Jefferson in Midtown. Now the group is filing a formal complaint with the Memphis Police Department.
Members Paul Garner (the group's organizer and an employee of the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center), Marian Bacon (an advocate for people with disabilities through her work at the Memphis Center for Independent Living), and Edward Jackson (a homeless member of the group) were issued citations.
Garner said he was locking the gate at the Manna House, and the group of eight members were heading to two vehicles parked on the side of the road in front of the Manna House when a police cruiser heading down Jefferson made a U-turn and pulled up next to the group.
"He asked what we were doing, and I said we were leaving a meeting. And then he said, "A meeting on the sidewalk?," Garner said.
Garner informed the officer that the group had to cross the sidewalk to get to their vehicles (Garner and another member were providing rides for the members who didn't have cars). The officer then wrote citations for the three who were standing on the sidewalk. The other five members present were standing on the grass near the sidewalk, and they were not cited.
Bacon, who is disabled, said the officers would not allow her to sit down while the group was being questioned.
"Edward and Paul kept asking for their badge numbers, but they didn't want to give them up," Bacon said.
"When I asked for his badge number, he said, 'I'll give it to you when I write you a citation,'" Garner said.
Because of ongoing issues with what they perceive to be police harassment of the homeless, H.O.P.E. members have been instructed to always ask for officers' badge numbers.
The three members who were cited have court dates set for January 14th at 1:30 p.m. Brad Watkins with the Mid-South Peace & Justice Center said, although they are filing formal complaints with the MPD now, the Peace & Justice Center will also have a presence with the members on their day in court. The Peace & Justice Center is currently working on a separate effort to bridge community relations with the MPD.
The Flyer is still awaiting a response from the MPD.
Bernard Joseph Lansky, 85, passed away peacefully at his home on November 15, 2012. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, a retail visionary, a businessman, a storyteller, and most notably, Clothier to the King.
On Monday, we reported that a MATA bus to Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis was no longer letting passengers off in front of the Southland building and was instead dropping passengers off on a nearby frontage road off Interstate 40. The accompanying video shot by members of the Memphis Bus Riders Union shows passengers navigating the unpaved side of a frontage road and traveling up an exit ramp to get to Southland Park.
As to why MATA was no longer allowed to drop off riders on Southland property, Troy Keeping, manager at Southland Park Gaming and Racing, responded that Southland Park asked the city of West Memphis to relocate the bus stop because of safety issues the bus stop was causing in the Southland parking lot.
"We had a couple of potential almost accidents and there were too many people waiting for the bus in high traffic lanes where the bus stop was located," says Keeping. "So we asked them to relocate it off of our property because of safety issues."
Alison Burton of MATA says she had also heard complaints of MATA bus riders panhandling on Southland property, and that was perhaps another reason Southland asked the bus to be rerouted.
Burton also says the reroute to an I-40 frontage road was not determined by MATA, but by the city of West Memphis planning division.
"MATA has been under contract with the city of West Memphis since June of 1999 to provide service for mobility within [the West Memphis] community," Burton says. "Routing, schedules, all of those things are determined by the city of West Memphis."
Since the video was taken, Ford of West Memphis has asked the city of West Memphis to have MATA cease dropping passengers off on the frontage road in front of their dealership. The stop has now moved further up the road, closer to Southland Park. But the stop will likely change again Burton says, as MATA and the city of West Memphis are in conversation about rerouting the Southland bus in a way that will be safest for passengers.
"This decision [to remove the bus stop] is one that Southland is welcome to make," says Burton. "It was not received well by some of the people who ride over there, but the people who live in West Memphis didn't complain. From what I understand, [the city of West Memphis] didn't get a lot of complaints from their constituents, and the service was developed for tourism, to get people [in West Memphis] to come over to Memphis."
The Southland route, according to Burton, was originally intended to be a free shuttle, paid for by the city of West Memphis, for West Memphians to get to Memphis. In recent years, however, Burton says the free shuttle had actually worked in the opposite direction, with Memphians using the bus to get to West Memphis more than the other way around. As such, the city of West Memphis decided to shift the bus from a free service to a paid service in February of this year.
A MATA bus route to Southland Park for gaming and racing is now dumping riders on the side of Interstate 40, according to a video secretly recorded by members of the Memphis Bus Riders Union.
In the video, the bus driver says that as of about a month ago, Southland Park no longer allows MATA buses to drop off on Southland property. Instead, bus riders are dropped on the frontage road of I-40. With no sidewalks and cars and trucks speeding by, the group then walks or in the case of one wheel-chaired passenger, rolls over an uneven gravel road along the interstate and up an exit ramp to get to the racing park.
Check out the full video:
We spoke with Troy Keeping, manager at Southland Park Gaming and Racing, about why MATA was asked to stay off of Southland Park's property.
"We didn't ban MATA. What we did is ask them to relocate the bus stop because we were having safety issues in our parking lot," says Keeping. "We used to have the bus stop in our parking lot and after the Tunica flood and the substantial increase in business we had a couple of potential almost accidents and there were too many people waiting for the bus in high traffic lanes where the bus stop was located so we asked them to relocate it off of our property because of safety issues."
Keeping says they contacted the city of West Memphis to relocate the bus stop, though MATA resisted the move. According to Keeping, West Memphis asked Southland Park five or six years ago to put the stop on the park's property.
"It was fine because we didn't really have the volume of business that we have now," says Keeping.
"I feel bad that they relocated it in what I would consider a poor area," he says. "There's a bus station next to Ford of West Memphis, that's where we thought they were relocating it, but they're just dropping them there at the service road in front of Ford. Frankly, in my opinion, MATA has not done the best job."
When asked how moving the bus stop further away from Southland would be safer for bus riders, Keeping responded, "There's not a good location on the property so it's really up to MATA and the city to find a place that's appropriate for them to stop. Whether or not the MATA bus came directly to Southland or not was not our concern. We don't want the liability or the risk."
As for how many customers come to Southland Park via the MATA bus, Keeping says it was enough to create a safety hazard, but in relation to their total customer base it's not a lot of customers.
"When I saw the video, my first thought was, 'While it may not be appropriate, people should exercise common sense before they get off of a bus in the middle of the frontage road. The people themselves should be responsible for their own behavior," Keeping says. "If the bus isn't taking them where they need to go, then I wouldn't ride the bus. I don't know what person would think they should get off on a frontage road in a wheelchair and ride in traffic. I look at a customer that does something like that and I think, really? I wouldn't do that. I frankly wouldn't ride the bus and get off there."
But Brad Watkins of the Memphis Bus Riders Union and the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center says MATA hasn't posted any information about the changed route at any of their terminals.
"[Keeping] completely misses the point. If you're already on the bus and that's your stop and you're trying to get there — perhaps you work there or perhaps you're there as a customer — how else are you supposed to get where you're going?"
For now, Watkins says he has received reports that the MATA route to Southland Park now drops riders off at an abandoned gas station close to the Southland property so that people can go from the gas station to the parking lot of Southland Park.
A representative from MATA has not yet returned our phone calls.
Amid last night's post-election social media storm, Facebook and Twitter buzzed with news that "riots" had broken out on the University of Mississippi campus over Barack Obama's re-election. Reports spread of hundreds of students collecting on campus, yelling racial epithets, and burning Obama/Biden signs. There were also rumors of rocks being thrown and pepper spray being used to disperse the crowd.grainy video was taken, showing students milling about, cop cars patrolling, students singing the Ole Miss
The University of Mississippi has responded that the events were "fueled by social media, and the conversation should have stayed there."
According to University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, police officers were alerted of "Twitter chatter" among students inciting a protest of the presidential election results at the student union. When police arrived they found around 40 students gathered in front of the union. Within 20 minutes the gathering had grown to more than 400 students. The crowd of students chanting political slogans was dispersed by university police. Shortly thereafter, around 100 students gathered at a residence hall. University police broke up the gathering and made two arrests — "for disorderly conduct, including one for public intoxication and one for failure to comply with police orders."
Chancellor Jones has expressed that some of the incidents reported on social media outlets were less than accurate:
“Unfortunately, early news reports quoted social media comments that were inaccurate. Too, some photographs published in social media portrayed events that police did not observe on campus. Nevertheless, the reports of uncivil language and shouted racial epithets appear to be accurate and are universally condemned by the university, student leaders and the vast majority of students who are more representative of our university creed.”
For now, the administration says it will conduct "a thorough review of this incident to determine the facts and any follow-up actions that may be necessary.”
The shiny disco ball made from repurposed bicycle wheels that was intended to serve as the new gateway to the Crosstown neighborhood has been temporarily removed from its post as it awaits repairs.
The sculpture is once again housed in front of the Crosstown Arts office on North Watkins after it was damaged in a storm a few weeks ago. High winds caused the spinning ball to bend on its post, and sculptor Eli Gold plans to make repairs to the piece before this weekend's MEMFix: Cleveland Street festival, which will feature pop-up retail, live music, and temporary bike lanes in the Crosstown neighborhood.
The sculpture was installed in late August after sitting in front of the Crosstown Arts office for several months. "Beacon" was created with money donated by Harry Freeman and Sara Ratner. The two had attended a Crosstown Arts MemFeast event in 2011, at which Eli Gold and Colin Kidder proposed to build the sculpture. At MemFeast events, artists present ideas for projects, and attendees vote on their favorite. The winner receives money to make their proposal a reality. The sculptors didn't win the MemFeast vote, but Freeman and Ratner liked their idea for a kinetic sculpture so much that they offered $3,000 to the artists after the event.
UPDATE (November 7th): The "Beacon" sculpture has been repaired and re-inistalled.
A new way to find jobs has rolled into the city — literally.
The Memphis Public Library & Information Center unveiled the new and improved version of its JobLINC Bus, a converted school bus, in late October.
The new bus is an improvement from its predecessor, which served the city for two decades. It boasts ten computer workstations with Internet access and printers. It also features solar panels, LED lighting, a fuel engine, and is ADA compliant.
Five days a week, the bus will travel to various community centers, library branches, grocery stores, and other public areas to help Memphians find employment.
The JobLINC bus will serve an estimated 12,000 people a year, providing one-on-one assistance with job searches, training opportunities, resume preparation, and online applications.
In 2011, the Memphis Library Foundation received a $314,000 grant from the Plough Foundation to purchase the JobLINC bus. The previous one served the city from 1990 to 2010. It was retired due to repeated mechanical problems.
Last night the newly constructed Beale Street Landing was host to its first public event — a fund-raiser for Monogram Foods and the Monogram Loves Kids Foundation.
Our own John Branston has been covering the development of the Beale Street Landing facility from fledgling idea to fruition. But only last night did we finally get a chance to see what this enormous undertaking has brought to the Mighty Mississippi riverfront. Check out our slideshow and read more about Beale Street Landing in the list of related stories below.
On Thursday, the last day of early voting, the Tennessee Supreme Court ordered the Shelby County Election Commission to accept Memphis photo library cards as a valid ID for voting.
Previously, the Court of Appeals had ruled that library cards should count as government-issued IDs, but Shelby County Election Commissioner Mark Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett appealed that ruling. After the appeal was filed, those who voted with a library ID card were given a provisional ballot.
Now, the state Supreme Court is ordering the Shelby County Election Commission to accept the library cards "as acceptable evidence of identification," as the court has decided to take up the challenge.
This Saturday, the Sierra Club will recognize South Memphis Alliance (SMA) founder Reginald Milton for his continued service to the South Memphis community.
Both the founder and executive director of the South Memphis Alliance, Milton has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Dick Mochow Environmental Justice Award. The SMA recently began turning the old Reed’s Dairy complex on Bellevue into an affordable laundromat and has also secured funding for a recreation and resource center to be constructed at the corner of Walker Avenue and South Bellevue.
Started in 2000, the SMA has tried to make South Memphis a better place to live by setting up and supporting neighborhood associations, civic clubs, and other forces for good in the community. In addition to their work in the historic Soulsville community, the SMA also has programs that deal directly with the safety and well-being of foster children, dealing with everything from drug abstinence to proper financial planning.
Milton will receive the award at the 11th Annual Sierra Club Environmental Justice Conference this Saturday at Lindenwood Christian Church. Author and NAACP member Jacqui Patterson is the keynote speaker.