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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Minority Leaders Say "No Room" for Bigotry in Memphis After Brooks' Comments

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Commissioner Henri Brooks
  • Shelby County Government
  • Commissioner Henri Brooks

In a joint press conference Thursday morning at First Baptist Church on Broad Avenue, community leaders from Latino Memphis and the Memphis branch of the NCAAP agreed that Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks’ recent comments about Hispanics should lead to an economic conversation rather than a racial one.

During a Shelby County Commission meeting on Monday, Brooks said Hispanics “asked to come” to the United States.

Pablo Pereya, who is Hispanic, was at the meeting where commissioners were discussing whether or not a local roofing company was discriminating against African-Americans because all 25 of its roofers are Hispanic. Though he was there for a different reason, Pereya spoke to the commissioners about the issue but became frustrated.

“I see you guys smirking and laughing like I’m not a minority,” Pereya told commissioners. “I know what it’s like to be a minority. I grew up in Memphis, and you being a Hispanic in Memphis is definitely the minority of a minority.”

Brooks responded, pointing to Pereya.

“You asked to come here,” Brooks said. “You asked to come here. We did not. And when we got here, our condition was so egregious, so barbaric. Don’t ever let that come out of your mouth again because, you know what, that hurts your case. Don’t compare the two. They’re not comparable.”

Mauricio Calvo, the executive director of Latino Memphis, and Rev. Keith Norman, president of the NAACP Memphis branch, spoke about moving forward with the “new” Memphis.

“The new Memphis is a table of brotherhood in my imagination, where all people are equitable and race doesn’t play such a prominent matter,” Norman said. “There’s always concerns and issues and we recognize that — we aren’t blind. We don’t live in a colorblind society. But to take it to this level is regressive.”

Both leaders say they want to look toward the future.

“In our perspective, in the new Memphis we’re trying to build, there is absolutely no room for intolerance and bigotry from anybody. I encourage voters to look closely at the upcoming election for that particular candidate or any candidate,” Calvo said during the press conference.

Norman also said the discussion needs to serve a higher purpose.

“We don’t want to concentrate on the sound bytes being played in the news. We need to talk about making sure that our contracting process has proper oversight, people are being awarded contracts based on merit and that the same standards apply federally, state, and locally,” Norman said. “A fair living wage ought to be included in this conversation to make sure that we’re not pitting groups against one another surrounding a low wage. Oftentimes what’s driving this engine is who will bid for the lowest dollar and that low dollar can be below what we consider to be a living wage.”

As to whether or not Brooks should resign, Norman said he believed the voters would ultimately decide, and Calvo agreed.

“Our community, quite frankly, cannot afford these types of things. We need to be working together to lift up the entire community,” Calvo said to reporters. “We have way too many poor people in Memphis — black, white, Latino, and any other community. We have to make sure our time in the county commission is spent being productive.”

Calvo said Latino Memphis and the NCAAP are trying to push past Brooks’ comments in response.

“How we handle this speaks to our character. We’re moving forward because we don’t want to address [those comments]. We have bigger and better things to address,” he said. “If you have two races fighting against each other for a dollar, what kind of dollar is that?”

Business interests are also at play here, Calvo added: “At the end of the day, we want to attract people to do more business in Shelby County. The people who are already in Shelby County need to have confidence that their elected officials are going to be representing all people in a professional manner. There’s a challenge and an opportunity here.”

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Frontier Airlines Offers $15 Flights Today Only

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:37 PM

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Citing positive passenger response to the Memphis/Denver flights Frontier Airlines brought to Memphis International Airport in March, the low-cost carrier has added four new weekly flights between Memphis and Washington Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.

Those flights will begin on September 8th. To celebrate, the airline is hosting a 12-hour, today-only sale with flights to any of the new cities Frontier is flying to for $15 each way. The tickets must be purchased by 10:59 p.m. on May 13th, and they're good for flights through November 19th of this year. Frontier will also be offering introductory rates as low as $39 through May 17th.

Tickets may be purchased on Frontier's website.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Untapped Event Has Huge Turnout On Opening Weekend

Posted By on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 4:53 PM

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Last Friday night, after the South Main Art Trolley Tour, the bar inside the Tennessee Brewery Untapped event was about four rows deep with patrons trying to get a drink. On Saturday night, they even ran out of beer.

Kerry Hayes, one of event's organizers and the director of public relations at Doug Carpenter & Associates, said the six-week, pop-up beer garden, which had its grand opening Thursday and ran until Sunday, had "higher-than-expected crowds all weekend long."

Hayes said the event's sponsors reported meeting people from as far away as New York City, Massachusetts, and even Germany at Untapped this weekend.

"What was really pleasing was the diversity of visitors — black/white, young/old, suburban/urban, little kids, senior citizens, etc. It was a terrific representation of our whole community coming together to invest in good times," Hayes said.

Tennessee Brewery Untapped will re-open on Thursday, May 1st at 11 a.m. and run until 9 p.m. that night. Weekend hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

"This weekend, we're looking forward to four days of sunny, cooler-than-normal temperatures, full beer taps, and more fun," Hayes said.

To read more about Untapped, check out this week's cover story.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

FDA Wants E-Cigarette Oversight

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM

E-cigarettes could get the same government oversight as traditional cigarettes after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced Thursday it wants to extend its authority over them and a variety of other tobacco products.

The new rule wold widen the FDA’s regulations to cover products that are currently unregulated. The rule would include electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, hookah tobacco, and dissovlables.

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The FDA proposal comes at a time when e-cigarette sales are exploding in Memphis, as we reported in March. Stores specializing in the products have sprung up all over the area. If it passed, the new rule would certainly have an impact on them.

The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.

“This proposed rule is the latest step in our efforts to make the next generation tobacco-free,” Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Products that would fall under the new rule would have to:
• Register with the FDA
• Report ingredients
• Market new tobacco products only after FDA review
• Make product claims only with FDA approval
• Not be available for free samples
• Meet identification restrictions to prevent underage sales
• Require health warnings
• Not be available in vending machines where minors are present

“Tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease in this country. This is an important moment for consumer protection and a significant proposal that if finalized as written would bring FDA oversight to many new tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. “Science-based product regulation is a powerful form of consumer protection that can help reduce the public health burden of tobacco use on the American public, including youth.”

Public comment will be open on the new rule for 75 days after the rule is formally released Friday. Read the proposed rule here: FDA_new_tobacco_rules.pdf

Friday, April 18, 2014

James Lee House Is Open For Business

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM

James Lee House
  • James Lee House

After years of laying dormant, the historic James Lee House in Victorian Village is open for business as a bed and breakfast.

The home at the corner of Adams and Orleans was purchased from the city by José and Jennifer Velázquez for $1 in 2012, and since then, the couple has invested about $2 million in restoring the home to be used as an upscale bed and breakfast.

There are five suites inside the bed and breakfast, one on the first floor and four on the second floor. José and Jennifer Velázquez reside on the third floor.

The James Lee House was built in 1848 as a two-story brick farmhouse, but additions were added on over the years to create the mansion it is today. The home is named for riverboat captain James Lee, who bought the home in 1890. Later, the home served as the Memphis Academy of Art (now Memphis College of Art), and it operated there until 1959.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Full PDF Report of Memphis Animal Services Undercover Investigation

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

In this week's Memphis Flyer, we reported on the past actions of Memphis Animal Services field supervisor Glenn Andrews, who was named in the same Memphis Police undercover investigation that netted former MAS employees Frank Lightfoot, Billy Stewart, and Archie Elliot on animal cruelty charges in late 2011 and early 2012.

In the undercover report taken at that time, Andrews is mentioned multiple times — once for kicking a dog and several times for giving animals to fellow employees without following the shelter's foster protocols. Read the full story here, or view the PDF of the undercover officer's report below.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Transportation Security Administration Opens Application Site for TSA Pre✓™ at Memphis Airport

Posted By on Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:47 AM

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Some frequent flyers boarding planes at Memphis International Airport may soon have a chance to skip a few time-consuming security measures through the TSA Pre✓™ program.

On Friday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will open an application site at Memphis International Airport for TSA Pre✓™, a screening program that allows passengers to move through security without removing shoes and belts and being allowed to keep their laptops and small bottles of liquids and gels in their carry-on bags.

TSA Pre✓™ is open to those who meet the following criteria:
* U.S. citizens of frequent flyer programs who meet TSA-mandated criteria and who have been invited by a participating airline.
* U.S. citizens with a Known Traveler Number.
* U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS.
* Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.
* Foreign citizens who are members of Global Entry (see Global Entry eligibility) and not registered as a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
* Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.

Additionally, the program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents who aren't frequent flyers but have been accepted into the TSA Pre✓™ application program. To begin, those interested should go through the pre-enrollment process online. Once pre-enrolled, they should make an appointment with the TSA and complete enrollment at the airport's new application center.

Here are some tips from the TSA about applying for TSA Pre✓™.

The application center will be open on week days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may be directed to the Universal Enrollment Call Center at 1-855-347-8371.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mayor A C Wharton's Office Releases Song About Health Insurance

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 5:05 PM

"Come on into the marketplace," croons Memphis soulster Will Graves in a new song urging uninsured Memphians to check out healthcare.gov.

"He got sick and his coverage was rejected. But he knows he's not the only one. Oh no. With open enrollment, everyone should know there's coverage for pre-existing conditions," Graves continues in this song performed in the style of the 1979 soul classic "Come and Go With Me" by Teddy Pendergrass.

Mayor A C Wharton's office commissioned the song to encourage Memphians to sign up before the March 31st open enrollment deadlines. But the song sounds more like baby-making music than a jingle promoting insurance. Judge for yourself.

The city is hosting an open enrollment event at Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church on Saturday, March 29th from 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Creative Placemaking Event Being Planned for Tennessee Brewery

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 10:46 AM

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The long-vacant Tennessee Brewery at 495 Tennessee Street downtown may see new life — at least for the short term — this coming spring.

Plans are in the works for a six-week event to be held from April 25th to May 31st in the brewery's courtyard space that could include a beer garden, musical performances, pop-up boutiques, movie screenings, art shows, food trucks, and more.

The event is being planned through a partnership with Memphis entrepreneur Taylor Berger, the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team, and Doug Carpenter & Associates.

The goal of the event is to activate the long-dormant brewery space, which is being considered for demolition by its current owners if no interested buyers come forward soon.

The building's leasing agent James Raspberry said the building's current ownership group has plans to demolish the 114-year-old structure if someone doesn't step in to purchase it in the next six months.

"At this juncture, someone needs to purchase the property. The ownership group is ready to hand off the baton," Raspberry said.

The current owners purchased the building 12 years ago, and they've repaired the south wall and installed a new roof, but Raspberry said "kids have gone through and just vandalized the building and ruined two to three sections of the roof."

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Memphis Airport Welcomes First Frontier Airlines Flight

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 3:57 PM

The first non-stop Frontier Airlines flight from Denver arrived in Memphis today around 1:15 p.m. Some of the passengers poured out of the plane wearing Elvis-style sunglasses given out on the flight, and even the pilot donned Elvis shades and waved to reporters from the cockpit.

A passenger leaving the first Frontier flight from Denver
  • A passenger leaving the first Frontier flight from Denver

Another passenger from todays arriving Frontier flight
  • Another passenger from today's arriving Frontier flight

Frontier Airlines had a presence at Memphis International Airport years ago, but it couldn't compete with Northwest Airlines and eventually pulled service. Now the low-cost carrier is back offering non-stop flights to its Denver hub.

Frontier originally announced they'd start with flights four days a week leaving from the Memphis airport, but reception has been so good, they've already announced plans to expand that service to seven days a week.

Frontier is considered a leisure airline and an ultra-low-cost carrier, meaning passengers opt for cheaper tickets with few frills (such as no free drinks, etc.), and they can choose to pay for as many extra services as they wish.

"We will bring the lowest fare into the city we fly into," said Frontier director of sales Andrea Blankenship during a quick welcoming ceremony before the first flight arrived today.

Scott Brockman and Andrea Blankenship in front of the first arriving Frontier flight
  • Scott Brockman and Andrea Blankenship in front of the first arriving Frontier flight

"We are reinventing ourselves as an [origination and departure] airport, and Frontier offers a tremendous product," said Memphis Shelby-County Airport Authority president Scott Brockman.

Read more about the airport's transition from a hub to an O&D airport in the next issue of the Memphis Flyer.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Calvary Episcopal Church Offers "Ashes To Go"

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 1:23 PM

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Wednesday, March 5th is Ash Wednesday, but the faithful who don't have time for church can get their ashes on the go tomorrow. Calvary Episcopal Church will be taking their ashes to the street, specifically along Main Street downtown, at noon.

Members of the parish will walk along Main, offering a cross-shaped smear of ashes on the forehead to anyone who wants one. Typically, one would have to attend an hour-plus liturgy at church on Ash Wednesday to experience the Imposition of Ashes, a Lenten kick-off tradition.

“Ashes to Go is about sharing one of the most sacramentally potent moments of the year with our friends and neighbors in downtown Memphis.” said the Rev. Chris Girata, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, who is leading the initiative. “Ash Wednesday is about remembering our mortality, but it is also about reconnecting with God and growing closer to God in the season of Lent. Lent is a time of love unconditionally offered, not guilt imposed, and we hope to impress that love on the friends and strangers we will meet with Ashes to Go.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tennessee Ag Gag Bill Is Back

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 2:44 PM

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A bill introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly that would regulate the use of drones in agriculture also outlaws “surreptitious commercial surveillance." And that has animal welfare groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States, concerned that its just another attempt to pass a so-called "ag gag" bill in the state, according to an article in The Tennessean.

Last year, the state legislature passed a bill that would have made it illegal for whistleblowers (and journalists) to hold undercover footage of animal abuse for longer than 48 hours without alerting law enforcement, but it was vetoed by Governor Bill Haslam.

Such bills, known as "ag gag" bills, have been introduced in state legislatures across the country as a way to crack down on undercover animal abuse investigations on factory farming operations. Most undercover investigations take much longer than 48 hours, and without being able to secretly record for several days, animal welfare groups are less likely to successfully expose animal abuse.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Make Memphis To Host Kick-Off Event

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 2:13 PM

In December, entrepreneur Taylor Berger of Chiwawa and Yolo fame started a Facebook group with a goal of connecting Memphis people and bringing to action their ideas for making Memphis a better place. That group has since grown to include more than 1,300 members.

Make Memphis will host its first big public event this Saturday, February 8th from 4 to 6 p.m. Those attending will be asked to submit an idea for a project that could improve the city, and anyone who wants can pitch their idea for 90 seconds. Some of those projects will be included on ioby.org's new Memphis website, where people can donate money to make the projects reality. Ioby.org is a crowd-source fundraising website, similar to Kickstarter, aimed at funding city projects.

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Also at Saturday's meeting, Make Memphis will form a business group of interested parties that will eventually host monthly meetings so entrepreneurs can share ideas and prioritize projects.

Attendees should RSVP on Eventbrite. Tickets are $5, but they will be refunded in the form of a gift certificate that can be used to find any project listed on ioby.org.

Medical Marijuana Act Gains Entry to TN Senate

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Senator Ophelia Ford
  • Senator Ophelia Ford

Senator Ophelia Ford (D-Memphis) has signed on as the sponsor of SB 2451, better known as the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, in the Tennessee Senate. The Senate bill was filed for introduction on February 5th.

The Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act would legalize medical marijuana for specific medical conditions through a Safe Access identification card process. The bill is featured as the cover feature "In the Weeds" in this week’s Memphis Flyer.

The House bill, sponsored by Representative Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), has gained 10 co-sponsors: Joe E. Armstrong (D-Knoxville), JoAnne Favors (D-Chattanooga), Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville), Derren Jernigan (D-Old Hickory), Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), Larry J. Miller (D-Memphis), Gary Odom (D-Nashville), Johnny Shaw (D-Boliver), David Shepard (D-Dickson), and Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory).

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Gawker Knows the Hippest Neighborhoods in Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 10:26 AM

A warning to the Memphis set of mustachioed, PBR-swilling lovers of music you've probably never heard of, Gawker knows where you are.

Back in November, the gossip website Gawker asked readers to vote for the hippest neighborhood in their cities in a poll that asked "What is the Williamsburg of your city?" Williamsburg is, of course, the Brooklyn neighborhood known for being hip, or at least being the national epicenter of hipsterdom.

So, the results are in and the hippest parts of Memphis are Cooper-Young, Overton Square, and South Main.

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Now before the fixed-gear, humanely raised, locally sourced mud starts to fly on this issue, the poll results were generated "thanks to the collective knowledge of Gawker readers." Each of the Memphis neighborhoods in the poll received one vote each.

East Nashville won the honor for Tennessee's capitol city. Not a single vote was cast for hippest neighborhood in Knoxville, though Happy Holler, the North Knoxville commercial enclave, was noted as an up-and-comer. The St. Louis neighborhoods of Central West End and The Grove were voted neighborhoods hippest there.

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