Thursday, February 28, 2002

BYRD EXITS MAYOR'S RACE!

Chumney stays in, resisting Byrd entreaties that she quit instead.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2002 at 4:00 AM

Bartlett banker Harold Byrd formally dropped out of the Shelby County Mayor's race Thursday, just before the noon withdrawal deadline at the Shelby County Election Commission.

Byrd's action will, in the opinion of most observers, virtually assure Public Defender A C Wharton the Democratic nomination for mayor, although an underfunded but determined State Rep. Carol Chumney remains in the race -- despite last-minute efforts by Byrd to persuade her to withdraw instead..

Byrd's decision to withdraw followed receipt Tuesday of a fresh voter survey by his Washington-based pollster, whose findings were that Wharton had a significant lead and was guaranteed victory in a three-candidate primary.

The prospective vote totals of Byrd and Chumney, however, added up more than Wharton's total; so Byrd resolved to try to persuade Chumney , whose figures in the poll were similar to his own, to withdraw.

This approach culminated in a two-hour conversation between the two Thursday morning -- after which Chumney, despite what was said to be some wavering, resolved to continue.

Her decision resulted in Byrd's own decision to withdraw, roughly an hour before the deadline.

There were no withdrawals on the Republican side of the mayoral race, with both State Representative Larry Scroggs and radiologist/radio magnate George Flinn staying in.

Friday, February 15, 2002

NO ANSWERS TO ARENA QUESTION AT PBA MEETING

NO ANSWERS TO ARENA QUESTION AT PBA MEETING

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2002 at 4:00 AM

Mayor Willie Herenton made an unexpected appearance before the New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority Friday to plead for teamwork, but he left open the question of who is going to play what role in the project. "Teamwork can only be achieved when there is a clear definition of accountability, of who is responsible for certain activities," he said. "Going forward, we will delegate in writing to the PBA certain defined responsibilities under the existing project agreement." Asked after the meeting if that would mean more or less control over the project by the PBA, Herenton declined to answer, but said it would become clear within two weeks. His appearance at the meeting, however, seems to suggest that the city and county could be taking some control away from the PBA, which is under the influence of state Sen. John Ford, its vice-chairman, and other members of the General Assembly. The city, county, and state government are all putting funds into the project, but most of the revenue to build the arena is supposed to come from user fees, on-site taxes, and hotel/motel taxes. PBA members asked a couple of perfunctory questions of Herenton before he left, then moved on to a presentation of architectural renderings of the proposed $250 million arena (brick and glass and 110 feet tall). The presentation may serve as a photo opportunity for the media, but the appearance of the arena is much less controversial at this point than the issues of how it will be paid for, ticket guarantees, low attendance, corporate sponsorships, construction contractors, and even the team s injury-depleted roster. None of those issues were taken up by the PBA or representatives of the Memphis Grizzlies who were in attendance Friday. Herenton opened his remarks by noting the collapse last month of a proposal to make the Grizzlies the "at-risk developer" in case of overruns. "As many of us observed, the devil is in the details, and the details just were not right," he said. As for the devil in the details of financing, contracts, and the protection of the public s investment, he left that for another day.
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