Issues of political equity arose as Public Building Authority chairman Arnold Perl and other PBA members appeared before the Memphis City Council Tuesday during the council’s committee-meeting period to discuss progress on the design and construction of the proposed basketball arena. Perl introduced Don Smith, the newly named executive director for the arena and outlined what he said were “the seven principles” currently guiding the Authority. (These were: 1) to assemble the best team; 2) to build on time and within budget; 3) to maximize minority participation; 4) to “design it right;” 5) to gain public trust; 6) to involve the community; 7) to exceed expectations.) At one point during the meeting City Councilman Rickey Peete drew analogies between the arena project and the Hartsfield International Airport building expansion undertaken by the city of Atlanta in the 1960's -- specifically noting the effect that project had on Atlanta’s minority contractors. “I’m not going to be satisfied with only 10 percent or even only 15 percent minority involvement on this project,” said Peete. Perl agreed that the arena project does provide opportunities for business owned by minorities and women to prosper and said that Memphis could use the project to improve the city’s image. “Is Memphis as good as Atlanta?,” Perl asked rhetorically. “Memphis’ airport is better than Atlanta’s. Why can’t we do the arena like we’ve done our airport? There’s no reason why we can’t.”


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