City Reporter 

City Reporter

GARE Sourcebook Looks At Region

By Chris Przybyszewski

The Governor's Alliance for Regional Excellence (GARE) has issued its Memphis Region Sourcebook, which was compiled by a steering committee of over 60 local notables including mayors, civic leaders, and governor-appointed representatives. Both county mayor Jim Rout and city mayor Willie Herenton participated, along with most of the Chamber of Commerce.

The report concludes two years of study on the Memphis region, which includes Memphis, Little Rock, Jackson, Mississippi, and Nashville along with associated counties and satellite communities. The area comprises 2 million people and 10 urban centers, called "corridors" by consultant Michael Gallis. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Gallis & Associates specializes in regional projects and has worked with Cincinnati, the western Michigan region, the Orlando region, and the state of New Jersey.

Gallis sees regions as the "new global economic geography."

"Due to the impact of globalization, regions really have to be recognized as social, economic, and urban centers," Gallis says. "They're not defined by geography. They're defined by populations which are non-political jurisdictions."

However, since there are no regional governments, as such, the challenge is to make the governing bodies act in ways that cross political boundaries. "We haven't constructed instruments for either looking at or managing regions," Gallis says. "All the things we are speaking about have regional impact, but we have no way to address regional issues."

To tackle this challenge, the report is divided into four areas of inquiry. First: "What are the new things that are happening?" asks Gallis. He gives as an example the Biomedical Research hub being planned at the site of Baptist Memorial Hospital in downtown Memphis.

Second: "What is going on that needs a higher level of coordination?" According to Gallis, a salient example is the transportation network in this region. While there has been growth in the highway, rail, air, and river transportation businesses, Gallis suggests the region would be better served if they were seen as components of a super-hub.

"Instead of separate plans," Gallis says, "they could be looked at as components of larger scale initiatives." One such initiative, as reported in last week's Flyer, is the creation of a rail super-hub that would allow cargo to be transported over rail lines without journeying into the city.

Third on the agenda was finding "areas where we really didn't have enough knowledge but could recognize we probably needed to study more in depth." Gallis gives as an example a regional economic development plan for the entire region instead of plans on a city-wide or even state-wide level.

Finally, the sourcebook addresses a need for "umbrella organizations," entities that loosely oversee networks of certain areas. Gallis gives the example of art and history. "There's a lot of history and cultural arts [in this region]," he says. "Memphis has such a distinctive, unique culture." While such oversight efforts could be seen as homogenizing, Gallis disagrees. "A lot of organizations are promoting, but individually," he says. "They don't have a national impact or a global impact." The umbrella organizations, according to Gallis, would allow a number of groups to extend their reach.

Though the sourcebook covers 11 areas of interest ranging from the environment to medical research to sports and entertainment, one issue it circumvents is urban sprawl. The sourcebook never directly tackles the subject, saying only that "low-density urban growth is costly to the community" in its urbanization and demographics recommendations section. Gallis says that sprawl is implicit throughout the sourcebook. "The issue of urban sprawl is that the region doesn't jibe as a whole," he says. "It doesn't see itself as a region."

Competition between parts of a region pulls population and money from one section to another. One example is the proposed Southaven mall. While that mall would surely draw business away from Memphis' already struggling inner-city malls and therefore weaken Memphis' urban core, the idea is a good one for Southaven, which will reap the financial benefits.

"Every city feels like they are growing in the right way," Gallis says. "But only when you look at a region can you see sprawl. It doesn't show up on individual units." When looking at the overall plan of the area, the prognosis isn't good. The cover illustration of the sourcebook is a map of the Memphis region that highlights the urban corridors as well as the highway system (both present and planned) that connect the corridors.

According to the report, a new "super-belt" will exist, composed of Tennessee Highway 385 and Mississippi Highway 304. This loop dwarfs the existing Memphis 240 loop and will, according to Gallis, encourage sprawl past Collierville and Olive Branch and into Fayette County and Mississippi. "The construction of the super-belt is in fact setting the growth pattern of the future," Gallis says. "We're setting in motion processes that could create an extended low-density urban area."

The solution, according to Gallis, is to use the sourcebook and future studies like it to strengthen the region as a whole, by planning the individual pieces in a way that complements other pieces. n

Judge To Consider DCS Agreement Before Signing

By Rebekah Gleaves

On Friday, July 20th, Federal Court Judge Todd Campbell held a fairness hearing to decide whether he would sign the settlement agreement drafted by both the plaintiffs and defendants in the Brian A. v. Sundquist case. Judge Campbell did not sign the agreement on Friday but said that he would consider it and presumably sign it on a later date.

The Flyer first reported on this lawsuit in its March 1st issue and again on June 14th. The lawsuit alleges that the state's Department of Children's Services system is allowing children in state custody to be physically and sexually abused, over-medicated, and shuffled from placement to placement while the state does little to protect or secure permanent homes for them.

According to Ira Lustbader, attorney for the nonprofit group Children's Rights, Inc., who brought the lawsuit on behalf of all of Tennessee's foster children, leaders in both houses of the state legislature have agreed to fund the settlement agreement.

However, the state has filed some objections to the agreement. Namely, the state would rather use the Social Security funds for the group benefit of all the children in custody rather than for the individual children to whom such funds are currently allocated.

Memphis Officer Is World's Fastest Cop

By Hannah Walton

He loved the competition but gave up track-and-field scholarships to join the Police Academy, and now he is enjoying the best of both worlds. After winning three gold medals, Memphis police officer Dennis McNeil is considered the fastest cop on foot.

McNeil competed in the 100 meter, 200 meter, 4 by 100 meter relay, and 4 by 400 meter relay in this year's Police and Fire Games in Indianapolis, an event much like the Olympics. "The games are extraordinarily colorful," McNeil says. "It broadens my horizon of the whole world when I see real athletes competing from all over."

McNeil returned to Memphis with gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter races, giving him a total of 6 for his career. He ran this year's 100 meter race in 10.71 seconds, .3 seconds slower than his career best. He also won medals in the 1997 Alberta, Canada, games and the 1999 games in Stockholm, Sweden.

"I give my mom full credit; she is the one who instilled hard work and perseverance in me," McNeil says. "I feel as though God has blessed me with a talent, and I not only need to use it but share it with others."

In the future McNeil plans to coach and mentor a track team.

Acoustic Showcase Hits the Net

The Memphis Troubadours Acoustic Showcase has been a staple of the Memphis music scene for two years -- bringing local performers together to swap songs every Tuesday night at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium -- but now the weekly forum is set to begin branching out into other mediums.

On Tuesday, August 14th, at 8 p.m., the Troubadours will broadcast a one-hour pilot for a proposed series of streaming Internet programs. Titled The Acoustic Highway and broadcast on www.acoustic.tv, the pilot will combine live performances from a Los Angeles soundstage with pre-taped segments on elements of Memphis music and culture. Graceland, Al Green's Full Gospel Tabernacle, the Arcade restaurant, and the P&H Café have been mentioned as possible video subjects.

The pilot is being produced by L2 Entertainment, a local company founded by brothers Wayne and Todd LeeLoy. Wayne is the creator and creative director of the Troubadours showcase.

In an interview earlier this year with the Flyer concerning the release of 3 Chords and the Truth, a two-CD compilation of Troubadours recordings, Wayne proposed that the showcase and recording were initial steps in a series of related ventures that could also include a television series and a touring show. The Internet broadcast is another step in realizing those goals.

The pilot broadcast of The Acoustic Highway will feature performances from Wayne LeeLoy, Cory Branan, Garrison Starr, and Paul Thorn. Starr released an album, Eighteen Over Me, for Geffen a few years ago and toured with the summer festival Lilith Fair. Thorn is a Tupelo-based singer-songwriter who has recorded for A&M Records and has had songs recorded by country artists such as Tanya Tucker and Toby Keith. Branan is a local artist who released his debut, The Hell You Say, on the Memphis label MADJACK earlier this year. LeeLoy, in addition to being the show's creator, is a frequent performer under the moniker Native Son. -- Chris Herrington

Baptist Ranks High

U.S. News and World Report's annual "America's best Hospitals" issue ranks Baptist Memorial Hospital 46th among the top 50 hospitals for orthopedics.

"We are so proud to receive this honor," Baptist's Director of Corporate Communication Echelle Lane says. "We have an outstanding staff of orthopedic physicians and are doing our best to live up to this honor."

It's the fourth consecutive year Baptist Memorial Hospital has been listed in the magazine. And as in the three previous years, it was named for orthopedics. One other year Baptist Hospital was named in the top 50 for neurology and neurosciences.

"I believe it's the team atmosphere of physicians, nurses, and other staff members all working together to treat the patient that makes the hospital among the best," Lane says. "We have an ongoing commitment here to bring in the most current technology and provide the most needed procedures for all of our patients."

Baptist Memorial Hospital was chosen from among 6,116 hospitals for the honor. Lane says the hospital is growing, especially with the new Heart Institute being finished in September and new women's-services hospitals opening in the Memphis area.

Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville has been listed in the U.S. News and World Report article a number of times for excellence in areas such as hormonal disorder, kidney disease, gynecology, and pulmonary disease. -- Hannah Walton

city beat

Prescott and Macaulay Leaving 'Birds, Jernigan Scaling Back

by John Branston

Two of the people who helped the Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park get off the ground and become such a success are leaving to go out on their own.

President and General Manager Allie Prescott and Jason Macaulay, who holds the same titles at the Plaza Club, announced their plans last week, although the timing is apparently coincidental. Macaulay said he learned about Prescott's pending September departure when he read about it in the newspaper.

Prescott plans to go into business for himself, possibly in partnership with his wife Barbara, a member of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education. Macaulay, who came to the Redbirds from The Racquet Club in 1997, plans to start his own firm "to help people doing what I'm doing."

What he does, among other things, is work long hours and weekends, and he looks forward to getting away from that part of the job.

"I like the project side of things," said Macaulay.

He intends to remain with the Redbirds at least through the summer and continue to live in Memphis after that. Cofounders Kristi and Dean Jernigan, he said, have been "enormously supportive."

Dean Jernigan said Prescott and Macaulay both played their roles well.

"Both are builders and creators of things. It's just a personality type. There are creators and sustainers. And both Allie and Jason are wonderful creators of things."

Rita Sparks and Dan Madden will take over Prescott's duties. Rita and Willard Sparks, who helped Jernigan start Storage USA, have been involved with the Redbirds for about a month. Jernigan said they would have come aboard sooner "but I wanted to get the whole IRS thing behind us first," referring to the tax-exempt financing of the stadium.

Madden has been a baseball man for 17 years and with the Jernigans for four years running the ballpark on a daily basis.

n On a related note, Dean Jernigan acknowledged that he is in danger of spreading himself thin between his CEO duties at Storage USA and his civic activities and plans to cut back on the latter. He has been nominated for the Public Building Authority (PBA) for the NBA arena and has led the corporate season-ticket sales effort.

"I'm definitely scaling back," he said. "That is part of the reorganization of the Redbirds and the Plaza Club. I want to play a role on the front end with the Public Building Authority just because I think it is my duty. I don't want the PBA to make the same mistakes I did. I wish we had done better with minority business participation. We did about 28 percent with minority firms but could have done better. I want to make sure the PBA doesn't come out of the box being the developer. We need to hire a strong company and keep this thing out of the ditch."

He said the authority's first priority should be gaining public trust by being "organized so there is complete visibility with the public."

He strongly favors the Union Avenue site for the arena over the Linden site, which he thinks would force arena patrons to navigate Beale Street "which is a wonderful adult gathering place but it is an adult gathering place." Most of the current parking lots are north of Beale Street and Union.

n They don't call it minor-league baseball for nothing. The Redbirds came within an out of having the side retired via pickoffs Monday night. In the midst of a three-run rally, two players were picked off second base, one with the bases loaded and nobody out, and the other with two outs and the Redbirds trailing 5-3.

Just as inexplicably, fans didn't get to see both gaffes on the vaunted replay screen. The Redbirds are wasting the technology by showing the same tired movie clips and guessing games between innings instead of replaying the highlights and lowlights of the previous inning. Pros can take it.

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