We had a good (though sheepish) laugh at Chris Davis' column about our dumpster (Fly on the Wall, January 17th issue.) We've been going through a renovation in our building. We hope our downtown neighbors remember their own renovations and how they always take longer than the original plan. Please continue to be patient with us. Like everyone else, we're looking forward to getting rid of that dumpster!
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
Mary Cashiola's article "Bull's Eye" (In the Bluff, January 17th issue) missed the mark. Her praise for the development planned near Poplar and Cleveland neglected to attend to the thousands of poor people pushed out of that area to make way for the planned upscale shopping and housing.
Eric Sheppard, the president of the development company, contended in the article that his company's "Whole mentality is ... being in areas that people have left vacant for a while." But the truth is that people didn't just leave this area vacant. They were forced out of their apartments, which were then boarded up.
What was once a vibrant community of Vietnamese and Hispanic people is now a ghost town awaiting the bulldozer. And all of this in the name of shopping? Sheppard's comment that "people are going to be thrilled with it" apparently refers to the potential shoppers, and not the people forced from their homes. How much of the residential space in this development is going to be available for low-income people? I very much doubt the people who were once in this neighborhood will be able to afford the new housing. But they can, I guess, take the bus back to their old neighborhood for the minimum-wage jobs Target or whatever other "big-box retailer" will offer.
Peter R. Gathje
In response to Tim Sampson's "Rant" (January 10th issue), I would like to offer answers to some of his questions about Iowa. Though I was born in the South, I grew up in Iowa and consider myself an Iowan, so count me as one person who is from there and actually willing to admit it. Other "admitted" Iowans include Buffalo Bill Cody, Johnny Carson, John Wayne, George Gallup, Herbert Hoover, Glenn Miller, and Grant Wood, just to name a few. I even know several people who live there now, intentionally.
As for how many Flyer readers know the exact geographic location of Iowa, the answer is: probably very few, if they were educated in Tennessee, which ranked 30th in the 2006-2007 Morgan Quitno Press' annual Smartest State Awards. Iowa ranked 9th. Call me a snob, but I wonder if anyone from Tennessee knows the exact geographic location of any state.
Yes, there are cities in Iowa in addition to the many, many little towns. And while there may be an abundance of diners in these little towns, there's also an abundance of libraries. Iowa has 540 central libraries, with 5.5 library visits per capita compared to 186 central libraries and 3.2 library visits per capita in Tennessee.
And every four years or so, Iowans like to vote, which may have a little something to do with the importance of the Iowa caucuses. In 2004, Iowa ranked 7th in voter participation; Tennessee was 49th. Critics of the attention given to the Iowa caucuses whine that it is a state that is not representative of the rest of the country. A state with a population that is literate, educated, and inclined to participate in elections is not representative of the rest of the country? Sad, but true, and probably explains a lot.
Floyd G. Benson
On January 3rd, American politics experienced a ground-breaking movement for change due to the overwhelmingly large turnout at the Iowa caucus.
Senator Barack Obama, whose campaign has called for a change in America's polarizing politics, was able to reach across party lines by drawing in at least 5 percentt of Iowa Republicans and a large number of independents to caucus for him. This year, the voter turnout nearly doubled, and whereas the previous average age of caucus-goers was 61 years, nearly a quarter of this year's participants were under 30.
The unprecedented turnout at the Iowa caucus is a testament to the amount of hard work that each campaign organizer has contributed over the past few months.
February 5th is Super Tuesday, the date of presidential primaries in over a dozen states, including Tennessee. I encourage everyone to come out to vote on February 5th, no matter who you vote for. Please exercise this right and responsibility as an American citizen.
This week it starts in earnest — the questioning. You can't escape it. It comes from your spouse, your kids, your parents — at the breakfast table, in the car, on the phone, via email: "What do you want for Christmas?" ...