How much do I love that I left out a word in my rant?
WREG lost credability way, way back. They're unapologetically biased in broadcast content and hideously inept in every endeavor from fact checking all the way to whoever answers the news desk phone. They're as easily provoked by viewer commentary as Trump is by Twitter. That they don't bother with an editor or with hiring an actual PR pro to handle interaction with the public is hardly surprising, and is just another example of WREG's extraordinary unprofessionalism.
But this... this article... it's truly a thing of beauty. I'm betting on a Carver High School valedictorian who's currently enrolled The University of Phoenix.
Can words be bronzed?
Based on his current predicament, it's abudandly clear that Chuck Brady has mismanaged every dollar donated to the zoo for the last 10 years. The growth of the zoo is proof of the public's support, with $950,000,000 spent to upgrade and expand during his tunure, yet Brady has at no point implemented or even planned for accommodations for the burgeoning numbers of guests he's invited.
His mismanagement has been eclipsed by the seemingly unending, spectacular, and hugely impressive new habitats being added, but things are different now.
The sudden and very visible crack in Brady's plan -- or, more accurately the lack of a plan -- to accommodate the zoo's visitors has been a shock to many Memphians, as well as to our guests. That a man who's grown the zoo so much and so fast could have planned so badly for its success is difficult to swallow. That, combined with the love Memphians have for their zoo has made it easy for him to manipulate both the people and the facts regarding his shortsightedness, presenting instead his apparent confusion over the lack of support the zoo is being shown. His allusions to some unspecified damage Overton Park supporters are risking to the zoo and its reputation have been standard througout this fracas he created.
While it seems that what he's wanted all along is to simply provide easy parking for the zoo's happy visitors, the fact is that he wants much more to have a fast solution that would eliminate the exposure of the mistakes he's made. If he could just have that "patch of grass," his own reputation would be saved. Parking is not the problem Chuck Brady wants to address. If that were the case he'd have planned for it years ago. What Brady has needed since day one of this drama is to downplay is his own massive mismanagement of zoo funding and donations.
Though many Memphians, especially our zoo lovers, won't want to concede this point, Brady grew the zoo too fast. Fast growth with zero attendance to the requirements of the changing numbers of guests has resulted in the very public and exceedingly well choreographed production he's performed for us. His desperate grab for the first available fix, namely a bandaid that took the form of an aggressive seizure of public property intended for the recreational and free use of Memphians. In 2016 alone, Chuck Brady has charged thousands of zoo guests $5 per vehicle to park on ground that the zoo does not own. Due to the constant traffic, that former open, grassy public space has been redused to mud and unlevel ground. These guests directed to park on the Greensward have included physically challenged zoo lovers whose needs would have been accommodated safely if Brady had approved funding for appropriate parking.
It remains to be seen what kind of somber plea he'll make next. It will undoubtedly take the form of some expensive legal wrangling paid for by zoo supporters, and it will most certainly be designed to make Memphians believe that the zoo is under attack and in danger of losing money.
The only person attacking the Memphis Zoo is Chuck Brady. Look at the zoo's growth, then look at its requirements. Look at the donations and income from both ticket sales and the vast number of programs requiring payment. Look at the intake from everything from Dippin' Dots to the gift shop (which is the biggest moneymaker on zoo property).
The intake vs. the required expenditures for the growth we've seen over the years doesn't look right. The numbers do not correspond. And there's good reason for that clear but strange imbalance: bad planning to the tune of more than $100,000,000 in donations and sponsorships.
It's not your job to fix Brady's mistakes, Memphis.
Look at the donations and the upgrades they paid for. Look at the amount of money spent on infrastructure. Now demand better for our yourselves as taxpaying Memphians, the zoo we've supported and protected since 1906, the thousands upon thousands of paying guests the zoo brings in every year, and, of course, your Overton Park.
Please remember that it's not "the zoo" that's mismanaged things so horribly; it's Chuck Brady. Chuck Brady is the only person involved in this melodrama who's hurt the Memphis Zoo, Overton Park, the people who support and visit both, and the zoo's reputation.
Brunetto, do you feel you fully understand the mission of the Overton Park protectors?
When the zoo builds their brand spanking new parking area, the guests won't have to walk at all. They will be comfortably and safely transported to the front gates of the zoo by friendly zoo-employed drivers in safe, reliable, and even fun shuttles (Ride the Roo Two to the Zoo?) $90,000,000 in expansion will most certainly create more interest and more visitors, as well it should! The next few million dollars in private and corporate donations to the zoo will be spent constructing that brand spankin' new and very tasteful off-site parking area. The grandparents who bring their little grandchildren in from Little Rock and Tupelo will love this show of appreciation for the their investment and the distance they've traveled. And at the end of their day at the zoo, the visitors we all greatly love grabbing their hot dogs and fries at the old cat house, walking out the door, out the gate, through the parking lot (which will have a great raised paving stone walk right through the middle and leading straight to the edge of Greensward), and into a stunningly beautiful and serene park for an impromptu picnic and a bit of a breather before they step back into those shiny, shuttles and get back in their cars for the trip back home. And oh how the kids will love that playground! The next few million dollars will be used intelligently, creatively, respectfully, and with a good deal more forethought than the last few were. And they all lived happily ever after.
P.S. The hippie who can't count, the one who spent about 20 minutes cleaning the park's vandalized sign for $3.24 on a slow night, wishes to change her title from "Greensward supporter" to "Overton Park protector." It's more accurate.
The cost to the city that zoo spokeswoman Laura Doty referenced in her statement amounted to $3.24 cents, with tax.
We don't know who defaced the sign or why. What we do know is who cleaned it up before the sun set on the day the vandalism occurred: a Greensward supporter.
Destruction or abuse of any part of Overton Park is unacceptable and reprehensible, whether a sign, the zoo, or the Overton Park Greensward. Save the Greensward and its supporters will continue to fight for the integrity of our park as a whole, and hope that zoo CEO Chuck Brady will soon join us in that effort.
For the record, I don't plan to bill the city, the park, or the zoo for the $3.24 or labor.
Not one cent of my money, or my family's money, will ever go to those people. Ever.
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By Micaela Watts
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