Friday, April 28, 2017

Meet the New Blue Suede Brigade

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 1:58 PM

Members of the Blue Suede Brigade 2.0. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Members of the Blue Suede Brigade 2.0.

Gone are the sashes, khakis, and pith helmets, but their shoes are still blue suede.

A brand new Blue Suede Brigade now walks the street of Downtown Memphis. There’s more of them, now 12. They have new hours, including Sunday (see below). And they cover more ground, all the way down to G.E. Patterson.

The Blue Suede Brigade 2.0 was introduced to the members of the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) during a meeting Friday. Training for the group kicked off on April 5 and the group officially hit the street last Wednesday.

The Brigade will cover fan area including Civic Plaza in the Core all the way down to G.E. Patterson in South Main and from B.B. King to Front. They cover that ground on foot (in special blue suede Nikes), bikes, and Segway transporters.

The group will continue to focus on hospitality and offer referrals to out-of-town visitors, of course. But they’ll also report nuisance issues and assist the city with identifying code violations.

The former Blue Suede Brigade uniforms — which included the tan pith helmets, blue shirts, a sash, khakis, and blue suede shoes — have been replaced with ones that more resemble a security officer.

Dark blue baseball caps feature the Blue Suede Brigade 2.0 logo. Lighter blue shirts feature an official-looking security badge stitched on one side, and the DMC logo on the other. The dark blue shorts are topped with a security belt outfitted with a radio, billy club, and more.

The Brigade will be out welcoming visitors from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday, from 10 a.m. - 10 - p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight.

Photo Contest Focuses on Memphis Bikes

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 12:07 PM

A biking photo contest will begin May 1, running through the end of the month to celebrate National Bike Month in Memphis.

The City of Memphis Bikeway and Pedestrian Program will hold the MemphisRides Photo Contest as a way to make the public aware of the vast number of diverse bike riders in the city.

Thousands of people ride a bike every day in Memphis, whether for transportation, exercise, or fun," the city's  Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager, Nicolas Oyler said. "Through this contest we hope to raise awareness of this fact, as well as to illustrate that the act of riding a bicycle in Memphis is just as diverse as our city."

To enter, citizens can post pictures of cyclists in the city to social media, tagging #MemphisRides and @BikePedMemphis.

The photos will be awarded points based on various criteria, such as how many cyclist are present in the photo, if the cyclists are biking in a bike lane, and if the cyclist is wearing "everyday" clothing or not.

The participant receiving the most points at the end of the month will be awarded a $150 gift certificate to Pedaltown Bicycle Co., a new bike shop in Memphis.

Owner of the shop, Clark Butcher agrees that more and more Memphians are choosing to ride bikes.

"Not too many years ago riding a bike on Memphis streets was a risky proposition, but due to efforts undertaken by city government to make our streets more bike-friendly, more and more people are feeling comfortable riding a bike," Butcher said.

Live at the Garden guests prepare to party

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 11:22 AM

Thomas and Meade Carlisle - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Thomas and Meade Carlisle

Guests gathered at the Live at the Garden Summer Concert Series VIP Premiere Party to learn which performers they’ll be partying with this summer.
About 500 people gathered at Memphis Botanic Garden on April 26 to hear the music lineup, which features Little Big Town (June 23), Boston (July 1), St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors (Aug. 11), Seal (Aug. 26) and Steve Miller Band (Sept. 15).

“We’re just blown away that everybody is so excited to hear the lineup,” said Live at the Garden co-director Sherry May. “We are absolutely blown away by the response we get from that party. They’re wanting to plan their summers and waiting to hear the lineup.”

Live at the Garden will celebrate its 17th year at the Garden, May said. “I think it’s a social event. Whoever’s on the stage is just icing on the cake. I think you see your friends and you come and have a good time. The people view it more as an event than a concert.”

Riverside Drive To See Closures for Memphis in May, Riverplay

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 10:54 AM

  • Google Maps

Preparations are well underway to transform Tom Lee Park into a festival grounds ahead of next week’s 41st annual Memphis in May International Festival (MIM) and motorists should expect at least some partial closings of Riverside Drive.

The street is fully open now but as trucks, volunteers, and workers begin to arrive to stage next week's Beale Street Music Festival, Riverside will be either partially or completely closed from Union to Georgia. Robert Griffin, the director of marketing for MIM, said the street is partially open for about 20 days of the festival cycle and is completely closed for no more than 15 days.

“As a partner with the city and citizens of Memphis, we make every effort to reduce the impact our festival has on Riverside Drive traffic,” said MIM president and CEO James L. Holt. “With the safety of our workers and festival-goers in mind, the road closures we require are both as brief and as thorough as needed to ensure public safety.”

A news release from MIM noted that the street’s closure is not related to the Riverside closure on the north end of the street. Riverplay, a pop-up park, will close Riverside from Union to Bass Pro Drive through August.

MIM will also close Beale Street from Wagner Place to Front Street and will also close Wagner Place form Beale to Linden on festival days.

More streets will be closed for the one-day, inaugural running of the Great American River Run on May 28. Those street closures will be announced in May.

Bike Lanes and Plazas to Pop Up Downtown

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 10:36 AM

Bike lanes and pedestrian plazas are on the way to downtown Memphis, as city officials plan to launch the Great Streets Pilot Project on June 26.

The project, which will run in conjunction with the national conference for the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals hosted in Memphis, will implement protected bike lanes and pop-up pedestrian plazas along a space between east of the Fedex Forum and the riverfront.

Further information, such as infrastructure details and timelines will be presented by the city's Department of Engineering and UrbanArt Commission at a public meeting on Tuesday, May 2, at the Crossit Library beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Bikeway and Pedestrian Manager for the City of Memphis, Nicholas Oyler, will be there to answer any questions.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Contemporary Media Inc. Hires Michael Donahue

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Contemporary Media, Inc. has announced that the company has hired former Commercial Appeal writer and columnist, Michael Donahue. The official press release:

Contemporary Media Inc. Hires Michael Donahue

Contemporary Media Inc., publishers of the Memphis Flyer, Memphis magazine, Memphis Parent, and Inside Memphis Business, are pleased to announce the hiring of long-time Memphis journalist Michael Donahue.
Michael Donahue
  • Michael Donahue

Donahue began his career in 1975 at the now-defunct Memphis Press-Scimitar and moved to The Memphis Commercial Appeal in 1984, where he wrote about food and dining, music, and covered social events until earlier this year. He has received Hall of Fame and Distinguished Graduate honors from his alma maters, Christian Brothers High School and the University of Memphis.

Donahue will write for the Flyer, Memphis magazine, and Inside Memphis Business.

"We are pleased to have been able to bring such a skilled, veteran Memphis journalist on board to CMI," said Publisher and CEO Kenneth Neill. "And we look forward to fully utilizing Michael's many talents in both our print and digital products."

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Circuit on Street Safety Kicks Off

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 2:33 PM

Memphis streets are becoming increasingly dangerous for pedestrians, as last year Memphis reported to have the highest number of pedestrians affected by traffic accidents anywhere in the state for the past 10 years.

Additionally, just this year, 15 pedestrians have died just by simply using the street.

In response, Bike Walk Memphis, a group advocating for better biking and walking experiences in Memphis, kicked off the "State of the Streets" circuit, which is an effort to inform various community groups about the current conditions of the city's streets and what the city is doing to improve them.

The effort began today as Nicolas Oyler, Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager at the City of Memphis, spoke to the Frayser Exchange community group about the dangers of the Memphis streets and the need to invest in the 15,000 acres of public space that reaches every corner of Memphis, known as our city streets.

"Our track record today is not good," Oyler said. "Our streets are dangerous by design, but we can improve that."

Oyler told the group that as of now 30 percent of the city's sidewalks are impassible and need to be redone today, but the problem is the high price tag these projects have, costing millions of dollars.

To make a dent in the problem, the city identified the 100 projects in the city that need the most attention in the Memphis Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

From there, 20 were chosen and federally funded to be demonstration projects, in an effort to secure more funding allowing the entire project to be implemented, says Oyler.

Program Coordinator for Bike Walk Memphis, Bridget Mccall says the group hopes to reach more neighborhoods with the "State of the Streets" circuit to inform people that the city is aware of the problem and is moving in a direction of improvement.

"We want to start having more conversations at a neighborhood level about the fact that there are plans that will make our streets safer," Mccall said.

Revisions of Overton Gateway Plan Revealed

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 9:01 AM

After receiving much criticism of the proposed Overton Gateway, the developers altered their designs for the five-story apartment building and townhouses that would line seven acres near Sam Cooper at East Parkway.

The developers, Makowsky, Ringel, Greenberg LLC, met with concerned members of the public on Wednesday, April 26, to discuss the changes to the plans corresponding to the feedback received after the design was initially proposed.

One of the key concerns of the first proposal was the intended heights of the buildings, inconsistent with the historical Lea's Wood neighborhood.

Blair Parker, involved with site planning and architectural design for the project, said the concerns were heard and changes were made.

However, as the group laid out the changes which included the proposed five-story building being reduced to a three and four-story complex, tensions— and eyebrows—rose in the room.

"Overton Park is an amazing influence of all in this region and we found the survey reflects that," Parker said.

But the concerns from the first meeting like the crowd that the complex would bring to the area, as well as, the amount of traffic, were still being expressed.

One attendee at the meeting, Marty Redding, says she sees little difference reflected in the revisions and is still concerned about how dense the complex would make the neighborhood, as well as the lack of parking, and the number of people who will be forced to park on the streets as a result.

"I just think it will complicate things," Redding said. "My daughter lives in Parkway Place and I just want to have a place to park when I go visit her."

The group announced that before moving forward with the project, many steps have to be taken, which includes taking the conceptual plan before the land use control board next week.

State Outsourcing Contract Signed Early, Seen As 'Betrayal of Public Trust'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 9:00 AM

On April 19, campus workers and union representatives waited outside of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to confront Terry Cowles, who was meeting with university officials to discuss details of the proposed outsourcing. - MICAELA WATTS
  • Micaela Watts
  • On April 19, campus workers and union representatives waited outside of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to confront Terry Cowles, who was meeting with university officials to discuss details of the proposed outsourcing.

State officials have already signed a controversial contract to outsource work in state-owned facilities, a move some watching the issue called a "betrayal of public trust" as the signing came days before it was even supposed to be presented.

According to a public document released by the state's Central Procurement Office, the state of Tennessee signaled that the contract for outsourcing custodial and maintenance services in state-owned facilities would be presented to commercial real estate giant Jones Lang La Salle (JLL) on April 24.

David Roberson, a Department of General Services spokesperson, confirmed with the Memphis Flyer that the contract was signed on Friday, April 21, three days ahead of the date the contract was to be presented unsigned to JLL. Roberson said the jump ahead of schedule was nothing unusual.

"I'm not sure that's a tremendous difference, between late Friday afternoon and 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning, are you telling me that's a bad thing?" asked Roberson.

The union representing public university workers, United Campus Workers (UCW), contend that yes, it is a bad thing.

"This move is consistent with their pattern of doing things in secret," said UCW spokesperson Thomas Walker, who added that the hastened timeline doesn't necessarily put UCW in a different position, but it further signals "a betrayal of public trust, accountability, and democracy".

Though Governor Bill Haslam has repeatedly said that outsourcing state facilities will save the state upwards of $35 million a year, the outsourcing plans have been met with increasing bipartisan criticism, and multiple protests by students at potentially affected universities.

Just days before the contract was signed, 42 Tennessee legislators signed a letter addressed to Terry Cowles, Director of the Office of Customer Focused Government (OCFG), the office that oversaw the outsourcing plan, urging Cowles to halt the process until economic impact statements have been reviewed by legislators in both rural and urban districts.

For urban areas such as Memphis and Knoxville, the impact of outsourcing will be felt most heavily by campus workers, and state-run detention centers. In rural areas, state park employees will likely be the most affected category of public workers.

The shared concern by both factions is a reduction in wages and benefits, but OCFG spokesperson Michelle Martin is adamant that it won't be the case.

"Contractors weren't even allowed to bid unless they could match wages and benefits of the state's employees," said Martin.

Martin emphasized that in the case of public universities, the institutions would still have complete discretion on whether or not they would opt to contract with JLL.

"It's really about whatever makes the most sense for these institutions," said Martin.

While this has been a stressed point throughout the privatization process, UCW is quick to draw attention to lines in the state's own request for proposals, which they feel are largely unanswered at this point.

United Campus Workers "Request for Proposals Truth Document"
In the past, the repeated figure for savings through outsourcing has been $35 million a year. But without economic impact statements requested by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, that figure is uncertain, though Martin explained that the $35 million is an estimate figure, and is drawn from a scenario in which all state facilities participate fully in outsourcing their non-specialized workers.

Like the $35 million, the state's own timeline for contracting with JLL is also an estimate, at least according to Roberson.

"These dates aren't promises, and they weren't absolute guarantees," Roberson said. "They're estimates."

This story will be updated with additional statements and information.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Volunteers Paint RiverPlay Mural

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 2:04 PM

Volunteers worked side by side with the Fourth Bluff team today to paint Riverside Drive between Court and Jefferson Avenue, bringing life to the pop-up park, RiverPlay, which is set to open May 5.

The goal today was to get the community involved with the project, by completing the street mural that spans the park, which will soon hold basketball courts, ping pong tables, a skating rink, and seating areas.

Grants coordinator for the City of Memphis and backer of the Fourth Bluff project, Maria Fuhrmann says it's important for people to get involved and have input on the things going on in their city.

"We want the public to feel ownership and stewardship over public spaces like this," Fuhrmann said.

Meg Johnson, a designer at Groundswell Design Group, the Philadelphia-based firm helping to conceptualize the Fourth Bluff, says the group wanted to do a bright, colorful mural that talks about the Mississippi River.

"We wanted to start a dialogue about it being adjacent to the river," Johnson said. "So we wanted to feature flora and fauna that can be found right there in the Mississippi River."

How to Turn Your Room Into a Wardrobe

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 11:54 AM


Fashion and personal style should always be a direct reflection and outward visual expression of who you are. The philosophy of style whether you speak to the eclectic woman, celebrity stylist, or GQ man in a boardroom will probably the same—It should tell a story. Most of the time that story line will be the same, the source of inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere! If you keep your eyes open, it’s on murals of historic buildings, it’s the natural gradient in ocean waves on vacation, and also interiors of boutique hotels and interiors.

I’ve always found my greatest source of inspiration from interiors. You’ll find many ideas and sources of inspiration to develop a broad and eclectic wardrobe from color ways, textures and mixing prints from your su casa or some one else’s.


Here’s a How to Guide to Turn Your Room Into A Wardrobe:

+ Look for prints. Drapes and pillows and even art work are great interior pieces to reference in a wardrobe look. Florals, stripes, and abstract art can easily be sourced and styled as a blazer or pair of trousers.

+ COLORS!!! Many interior designers plan room vignettes based on mood-boards and color palettes. You can too! It’s your easy little color palette cheat book. Play around with gorgeous color combination pairings like blues paired with shades of orange, complimentary and contrasting color ways, and monochromatic looks.

+ ACCESSORIZE WITH TEXTURE AND FIXTURES. I love to replicate a statement earring look from placement of a chandelier in a dining room. There are endless options when it comes to playing around with accessories. The wood texture of African drums in a Afroglam family room, velvet loveseat upholstery styled as a velvet formal gown, acrylic centerpieces rendered as a chunky bracelet.



ANDREA FENISE LOOK 1 Blazer : Main Event Boutique Blouse: byAndreaFenise Denim: H&M INTERIOR DESIGN : GWEN DRISCOL



Get inspired to Turn Your Room Into A Wardrobe by looking at or attend Art by Design April 29th, 13 design vignettes and a Turn Your Room into A Wardrobe Tour and Presentation

UPCOMING EVENT ART BY DESIGN Propcellar April 29th 11a-3p Benefitting ArtsMemphis, Art by Design is a 3-Day event featuring the design artistry of 13 of Memphis’ top interior design teams. Demonstrating an astonishing array of talent, style, furnishings and art, the designers are collectively working to raise funds for over 60 arts organizations and individual artists in our city.

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Memphis Pets of the Week (April 27-May 3)

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 10:38 AM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No New Taxes in Mayor's New Budget

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s budget for the next fiscal year does not call for any new taxes, but it does call for some new fees to build infrastructure, more money to shore up the city’s pension system, and money to retain and recruit police officers here.

Strickland delivered his 2018 budget to the Memphis City Council in a short presentation Tuesday. The total general fund budget he proposed is $668.7 million, just slightly higher than the current-year budget of about $667 million.

Strickland’s capital improvement program budget (which pays for one-time, big-ticket items and are usually paid for with bonds) is $77.8 million. That is much lower than Strickland’s $85 million for the current fiscal year. Both figures are far lower than the $189 million CIP in former Mayor A C Wharton’s final budget.

The current city tax rate is $3.40 per $100 of assessed value of property. Strickland’s budget proposes keeping that figure where it is. Though, it may go down.

Here’s what Strickland’s team said about that process in a news release following his presentation:

“The office of the Shelby County Assessor of Property recently completed its every-four-years reappraisal of property values, and average values in Memphis have increased. The increase will result in a new, lower certified tax rate — which state law mandates so that higher values still produce the same amount of tax revenue for local governments.

The certified tax rate for Memphis will be determined shortly, and it will be the tax rate endorsed by Mayor Strickland.”

The budget adds new city sewer and storm water fees to “invest in our infrastructure.” The fees work out to about $5 per household, Strickland said. The improved infrastructure will help control flooding in the city, Strickland said.

Noting that public safety is the “No. 1 job of city government,” Strickland said his new budget includes pay raises for Memphis Police Department (MPD) officers, new classes to recruit police officers, and more overtime pay for officers in high-crime areas.

“Our administration inherited a police force with its lowest staffing level in about 10 years,” Strickland said.

Strickland proposal hastens the march to fully funding the pension system for city employees. The Tennessee State Comptroller put Tennessee cities on a five-year plan to fully fund their pensions a few years ago.

At the end of that five years, those cities must be funding pensions at 100 percent each year. But the comptroller allow a five-year ramp-up process to get there. Strickland plans to pay about 88 percent of the required annual contribution to the system next year, while state officials only mandate cities fund it at 83 percent at that time.

Strickland wants $18.5 million to pave more Memphis streets. He wants funds to re-open 10 library branches on Fridays. He wants to offer free spring break camps again next year and employ Memphis youths through a summer job program.

He said he also wants to continue the spirit of collaboration with the city council. That collaboration led to one of the quickest, less-contentious budget seasons in recent memory last year. He said that budget changed lives for the better.

“I know you want this positive momentum to continue,” Strickland said. “And I know you want to see other examples of things we’ve collectively turned around, too.

“So let’s work together the next few weeks to deliver a budget that will enable us to continue changing lives for the better in our city.”

Strickland’s presentation kicks off a weeks-long budget season at Memphis City Hall. City council members will now hold a series of budget hearings, in which they will learn about, discuss, and, likely, change Strickland’s original proposal.

The council will have the final word on the city’s budget. They must take a final vote on the budget by July 1.

For full details of the mayor's new budget plan, go here.

More Solar Power is Coming to the Mid-South

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 2:01 PM

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is constructing a one megawatt solar facility near its Allen gas site in Memphis which is set to be completed by September of this year.

More than 3,000 solar panels will be installed over three acres of land, which will provide enough electricity to power about 120 average homes.

Combined with the five megawatts of biogas generation from the Allen gas plant, which is also under construction, the projects will produce enough renewable energy to power approximately 3,000 homes.

The $1.3 million installation will make the facility the largest TVA-owned solar project of its kind in TVA's service area.

Over the course of the next 20 years, TVA plans to invest around $8 billion in renewable energy projects, supporting the Authority's stated commitment to creating cleaner, diversified energy.

Under Proposed Law, Women Will Have to Hear Their Fetus is Unviable- Twice

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

  • Micaela Watts

The proposed "Tennessee Infants Protection Act" (TIPA) cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 7-2 vote, and is expected to head to the Senate floor as early as next week.

If passed, the measure won't prohibit abortion before 20 weeks, but it will introduce a swath of legal entanglements for women who need an abortion after 20 weeks, and for the physicians who provide them.

Among the numerous restrictions introduced in the measure, one stands out as particularly troublesome to Francine Hunt, the executive director of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood.

If passed, women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks — whether it's because their fetus is not viable or carrying the fetus to term poses a threat to their lives — must have two physicians certify that the abortion is medically necessary under state law.

"To put this in context, for a woman who is pregnant at 20 weeks, by that point I would say most, if not all women want to carry their pregnancy to term," said Hunt.

PP's own data says that 99 percent of abortions are performed before 21 weeks.

Hunt adds, "It's usually after that point that they've gotten bad news from their doctor. They're usually in a state of grief, and they have a tough decision to make — whether that's to risk carrying the child to term, risk delivering a still born, or making the decision to terminate the pregnancy because they think it will spare their infant from a life of pain, or save the mothers."

If TIPA becomes law, expecting mothers who are faced with such a decision will have to hear that their fetus is unviable — twice, from two separate doctors who must not even be in the same practice.

"This bill doesn't really even do anything, besides create more hardships for the patient who's already at a delicate stage, and their doctor," said Hunt. "There's a cruel overtone to this bill"

Attempts to criminalize, ban, or partially ban abortions are almost a yearly feature in Tennessee's legislature, and are routinely fought by Planned Parenthood and other reproductive rights advocates. This year, the TIPA measure has actually drawn criticism from Tennessee's own attorney general, Herbert Slattery III, who called the measure "constitutionally infirm" and "suspect" in an opinion released early April.

Just last week, the state was forced to retract two abortion restrictions — one that requires physicians performing the abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and one that requires a clinic that performs 50 or more abortions a year to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers — after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar restrictions in Texas.

"Those restrictions were struck down because they were unconstitutional," said Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region's CEO, Ashley Coffield. "Yet, some legislators want to proceed with another unconstitutional measure."

Coffield calls TIPA, "reckless", but adds that the bill has "galvanized people across Tennessee to speak up about reproductive rights."


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