Not Chump Change
Flattered as I always am to be mentioned in John Branston's column (City Beat, July 24th issue), it's misleading to imply that the controversy between the County Commission and county schools is only over a $56,000 raise for the superintendent or is merely "symbolic." The rub concerns dozens of top-level administrative positions with pay raises of 4, 5, and 8 percent compared to last year (not to mention the 32 percent pay raise for the superintendent), in a year in which fiscal crises forced us to lay off workers and effectively cut county employee pay by denying them a customary cost-of-living increase while raising health premiums.
The amount in question is well over $300,000. Our proposal would be to limit such high-level management raises to the 2 percent given the county school teachers, saving well over $240,000, which could be used for school supplies or for stipends for the many non-teacher school employees who got no raise at all. This ain't chump change, and it's more than mere symbolism.
Stephen John Mulroy
Shelby County Commissioner
Non-Creationist Intelligent Design
In Bianca Phillips' article ("Q&A with Barbara Forrest," July 24th issue), she gives hearty praise to Forrest for her role in the Intelligent Design trial in Pennsylvania. Forrest injects a very narrow and biased view, without offering the alternatives.
There are many non-creationists who hold to Intelligent Design. Many believe that intelligence is deduced from mathematics and inference and do not speculate on the identity of a designer. Some have suggested panspermia, where life was perhaps "seeded" by aliens.
Complex specificity has never been shown to have evolved by random mutations and selection; i.e., DNA, a living cell, the bacterial flagellum, etc. I guess one can always expect bias, as all worldviews have presuppositions attached to them.
Charles H. Gillihan
Sampson is a Grammar Maven
Tim Sampson is unquestionably one of the best things the Flyer has going for it. I had begun to think that no one else cared about the misuse of "nauseous" and "nauseated" (The Rant, July 24th issue). My best guess is that he also gets chills when people misuse "I" and "me." Anyone who believes that the two following sentences are correct needs to go back to grammar school for a refresher:
Mom gave Bill and I tickets to the ball game.
Bill and me went to the game.
I see it in print and hear it daily, even on network news. In the meantime, it's wonderful to read the comments of someone who seems to share the same quirky values about politics, religion, and life in general as me do.
Memphis Music Fans
In Dennis Cupp's July 17th Rant, he described the album Raising Sand, and presumably the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant concert, as "airy, dark, and moody" and wrote about how the crowd wouldn't shut up long enough to realize they were at a concert. Well, Elvis Costello's New Daisy concert was also loud as hell, so the audience had to scream their idle conversation. The night before Costello's concert, we drove to Nashville to see Ron Sexsmith and Nick Lowe perform their solo acts at the Belcourt Theater. You could have heard a pin drop. I'm glad I'm not tempted to leave the house.
No Gridlock in Germantown
I found Bruce VanWyngarden's story of gridlock and profanity after his Fourth of July visit to the river quite interesting (Editor's Note, July 10th issue).
In 1981, several friends and I went to the river for either the Sunset Symphony or Fourth of July fireworks. The exact same gridlock — and utter MPD indifference to it — was present then. There's been no change in 27 years and obviously no progress.
What has changed is Memphians. The crowd in 1981 was gridlocked for 30 to 45 minutes, yet we saw no one driving on a sidewalk, forcing their way through intersections, or blasting obscene music. Some were drinking but remained civil.
This year on the Fourth, my wife and I did some things around the house, had a nice cookout, and then at dark went into the backyard and watched the Germantown fireworks — another change from 27 years ago as well as from VanWyngarden's experience.
The reader can decide which of the changes above is progress and which is not (and where they would rather take two 11-year-olds).
Herbert E. Kook Jr. Germantown