It is far too late for electing different officials to make a difference in Memphis. Memphis is already done. Had corrective action been taken 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, something perhaps could be done. Now it is too late. Unable to pay its debts, Memphis will eventually seek a referendum to dissolve its city government. Shelby County and the suburbs will fight it. If the suburbs win, Memphis will file for bankruptcy. If the suburbs lose, Memphis will go out of existence, basically forcing a consolidated city and county government. Whites and middle-class Blacks will vote with their feet, and the whole county, suburbs and Memphis alike will soon resemble Memphis, broke and indebted beyond repair, with infrastructure crumbling and blight and crime everywhere.
All this tells us is what we already knew, that Black LEADERSHIP in Memphis is as blatantly racist as white leadership, and occasionally more so. Steve Cohen, by any rational standard, has done a yeoman's job representing not only his district, but the city of Memphis as a whole. But none of it is enough for the "only a Black can represent Blacks" crowd, and so there is a price to pay. Although I am a Democrat, I will not be voting for Dierdre Malone, nor for any other so-called Democrat that has thrown their support to Ricky Wilkins. If it is about race to them, I will cheerfully cross over and support Mark Luttrell for county mayor. I have never heard him say that "only a white person can represent whites." So who are the real racists in Memphis?
I've got a great solution. The business owners won't like it, but obviously nobody cares about them anyway. Let's all boycott Overton Square due to the lack of parking. If we do that, then one by one, all the establishments will close. Then there won't be a parking problem anymore, and people can park in front of their houses without paying for a permit. Problem solved.
You want to know how to get people to use the new garage? Make it free! End of story. As long as there is any charge, I will never park there.
BS. This is really to try to force people to use the paid parking in the parking garage, which I for one will NEVER do. Why did we work so hard for the rejuvenation of Overton Square just to have the city kill it now? If I cannot park for free, I will take my business elsewhere, and I believe I speak for a lot of people.
Ultimately, Memphis aggressively annexed through the 1960's and 1970's for really only one reason. To keep the "wolf" of Black majority from the door (Jacksonville had done the same thing until they finally chose consolidation, and Nashville's consolidation was in part to regain a white majority to prevent the spectre of "Black rule'), Memphis annexed more and more suburban areas like Frayser, Raleigh, Westwood, Whitehaven, Parkway Village and Fox Meadows. A history of Memphis in the 20th Century will show that Memphis repeatedly used all kinds of schemes to keep Blacks out of office, from gentlemen's agreements to have all white candidates but one withdraw when a Black was running, to the kinds of annexations we are talking about. The ultimate irony is that when Memphis finally elected a Black-majority government, it continued to aggressively annex white suburban areas, for a very different reason- it desperately needed the money to stay afloat. Politics would have motivated a non-annexation course-politically Willie Herenton and other Black officials would have been better served by an ever-increasing Black majority. But what was politically expedient was economic suicide, and Herenton was smart enough to realize it, and a big enough man to put the city's future ahead of his own ambition. The annexation of Hickory Hill could have ended his political career, because it brought into the city enough people who were opposed to him that he could have lost the next election. It is Memphis' misfortune that the majority of whites in Shelby County are so hostile to Memphis, that they begin planning to move as soon as their neighborhoods come into the city. Much of that is due to schools, and that problem has never been solved. But a lot of it is also due to non-existent city services and a considerable amount of corruption. Even today, the pensions make a convenient whipping boy, but nobody seems to point out 41 million on the boat dock, 15 million on the baseball stadium, 15 million on the bait shop, 15 million on the Sears building, and Mayor Wharton wants even more money to tear down Raleigh Springs Mall. Yet we are closing libraries and community centers, laying off police and fire, and the people of Memphis no longer have any say-so in how their children are educated, regardless of whether they are in the Achievement district, the Shelby County Schools or a charter. WHy would ANYONE want to live in Memphis right now?
41 million dollars went into the useless and ugly boat dock called Beale Street Landing. Another 30 million went into the old Sears Building and AutoZone Park. There's 71 million dollars there alone. And we haven't even started looking at money that was given to rehab Raleigh Springs Mall (now they want to spend more money to demolish), money that was given to rehab Hickory Ridge Mall (it's now mostly vacant), and money that was basically given to corporations as bribes to keep them from leaving Memphis, which they wouldn't have been thinking of doing in the first place if the city government had held the line on taxes and had provided basic, reliable city services like garbage pickup and public safety. More money was thrown into the Pyramid to lure a bait shop. Memphis chooses to not provide city services to residents, and then divert that money into salaries and perks for elected officials and funds for grandiose redevelopment schemes. And all the while the streets grow pock-marked and full of holes, streetlights aren't replaced, crime spirals out of control (regardless of how the administration lies and tells us it's down), the city abandons its school system, employees are forced to take a pay cut, libraries and community centers are being closed, and thousands of people make the rational decision to move out each year. And then people in city government have the nerve to suggest that those who move out should be hit with a payroll tax.
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By Flyer Staff
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