City Reporter 

City Reporter

In Hot Water

City council to examine outdoor vendor ordinance.

By Mary Cashiola

"Everybody knows me over there," 71-year-old Cassie Cannon says of the Lamar- Airways Shopping Center. "Even babies who are just starting to walk. They know me. I'm the snow cone man."

For six years, Cannon set up shop every weekend at the Lamar-Airways Shopping Center, selling everything from candy to snow cones to corn dogs out of his truck. He says he had more customers than Kentucky Fried Chicken and never had a complaint once in all that time. But now the truck sits in his driveway.

Early last fall, the city decided to turn up the heat on street vendors and began to enforce a 1992 ordinance. Almost ever since, Cannon's truck has been grounded. In November, after being cited by the health department, Cannon went in front of Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter and was told to cease operations until the city changed the ordinance.

City councilman Myron Lowery isn't necessarily trying to do that, but he does think the council should have a discussion about the ordinance. Earlier in the year, Lowery proposed several changes to the ordinance, but they were met with objections from both code enforcement and the health department. Lowery says he can see the issue from both points of view, as well as that of the street vendor's.

"It's a difficult question. Store owners who pay rent and utilities are opposed to having vendors outside their doors," he said at a recent council meeting. "I think it's something we need to look at."

Cannon, a retired city sanitation department worker, says he needs to sell concessions to make ends meet and that he's open to inspection from anybody, anytime. "All we want is a year-round permit. ... The shotgun they used was they don't want you cooking in public, but they're doing the same thing at the fair. They're doing the same thing at Memphis in May. What's wrong with mine?"

Shirley Shack wants the same thing: a vendor's permit. Last week, Shack went to the Essence Festival in New Orleans. Shack, who bought an $800 permit from the city to sell turkey legs and corn dogs, had been to the festival twice before and called it "very lucrative."

"You make five to 10 times the money you put in. At least five," she said.

Shack, who has been a vendor for 10 years, sees it as a win-win situation for both the vendors and the city. "In Atlanta, for the Olympics, the city charged vendors $1,000. There were 5,000 vendors, so the city made $5 million for that one event in Atlanta. The Essence Festival in New Orleans is a huge event," she said. "They have 2,000 vendors coming, so they're making $1.6 million. You get the picture. If Memphis says it's okay, we would pay the money."

For the Lewis/Tyson fight June in 2002, Shack rented a space from the owner of a parking lot near The Pyramid to sell her products. She says that is the sort of thing the vendors want to see allowed.

"We're not asking to set up on the street corner," Shack said. "We want to set up on private property. That's what they're forgetting."

The council is expected to discuss the matter in committee on July 15th.

Beat It!

Pervert on the prowl in Evergreen?

By Mary Cashiola

Since January, the owner of a house on Avalon has been scared to leave her house in the morning. When she did in early May, for instance, she found the top of her 1993 Nissan dented and a used condom lying on the windshield.

She is one of several women in the Evergreen area who have been victims of harassment and exhibitionism in the past year. Although one suspect was identified in May, victims say another younger man has apparently taken his place.

"He knocks on the door or rings the bell and then he masturbates on the porch," says B.J. Massengale, an Evergreen resident. "He's not afraid of anything. He's not afraid of people or the dog. Last night he was here around midnight."

Massengale says the original late-night visits began two years ago and happen maybe once or twice a week.

"The little old ladies over here are all petrified. There's a 78-year-old woman who opened one of her doors while he was doing his thing," said Massengale. The man then made several obscene statements to the homeowner.

According to police incident reports, an exhibitionist has been spotted on both Avalon and Tutwiler in the past few months, and Massengale says residents on Evergreen, Jackson, and Willett have also been hit.

"We've called the police each time and they always come and search the neighborhood. They've told us to try to get a picture," said Massengale. "The last two times they haven't written down our names or anything because they know us."

The resident on Avalon said she's been targeted for eight months, usually on holidays, and it's enough to make her want to move. "He doesn't hit the men [who live] on the street or the couples. It's just the women, so we know he's watching us."

She says he usually bangs on her doors and windows in the middle of the night and she'll usually yell at him to go away.

"The time he dented my car and left the condom full of semen, I heard him but I was tired. I just thought, 'Oh, it's the pervert again,'" she said. "[The police] said I could have him arrested for denting the top of my car, but that was it."

Memphis police are investigating this situation. They advise residents not to open their door to strangers.

Getting Wild

E! party show to feature Memphis.

By Bianca Phillips

Locals know Memphis can be a hot place to party, but E! Entertainment plans to let others in on the secret when they air an edition of a party travel show featuring the Bluff City.

Wild On!, a television travel guide for party-goers, features clips of people romping around popular nightspots. The show usually focuses on the obvious hotspots, such as Costa Rica or Miami, but producers are currently working with Budweiser on a special "Bud Rocks" series that will highlight four rock bands and their hometowns. The Memphis segment will feature a performance by Saliva, as well as a tour around town with frontman Josey Scott.

After filming the Saliva footage, the show's producer brought in host Cindy Taylor (left) to showcase the local nightlife scene. Footage was shot at Club 152, Raiford's Hollywood Disco, Alfred's, and Pat O'Brien's.

"I'd never been to Memphis, and I actually only had two days to set this up," said producer Jeremy Berman. "It helped going around with Josey Scott. He suggested Raiford's. But I asked everyone, from cabbies to people just hanging around."

The Memphis segment will fill half of a one-hour episode that will air later this year.

Satellite Launched

New community court opens in Orange Mound.

By Janel Davis

Beginning Thursday, residents of Orange Mound will get their own community court to handle environmental problems. The newest environmental court satellite location is the fourth of its kind begun by presiding judge Larry Potter.

"I always wanted to go to this area because there is so much community involvement," said Potter. "These types of courts are only successful in areas where residents are willing to do something about the problems."

The court will be housed in the Senior Citizen Center on Douglass Avenue and will be in session the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 1:30 p.m. until the docket is cleared. More than 15 cases are already set for Thursday's docket. Potter will hear code violations brought by various agencies including the police department, fire department, and zoning and building code departments.

Thursday's opening session completes a three-year effort by Potter, community residents, and city councilwoman Janet Hooks to establish the court. Potter said the process was delayed due to his health issues and difficulty finding a suitable location.

In addition to the satellite locations, Potter hears environmental and traffic cases in the main courtroom at 201 Poplar. The Orange Mound court joins those in Frayser and Whitehaven which meet twice a month, and the Millington court which meets the first Thursday of every month. If caseload is an indication, these satellite locations have been successful. Potter will hear a record 76 cases during the next Whitehaven session, which averages 30-40 cases. The Frayser location averages 20-30 cases each session.

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