About Kevin Lipe's post, "How the World Ends: Game 6, Warriors 108, Grizzlies 95" ...
As a Warrior fan (since 1965) I would like to say that the Grizzlies are a classy, hard-nosed team with classy fans. They gave the Dubs all they wanted, that is for sure. Also, I will say that I enjoyed reading your columns during this series and I wish you all the best!
About Bruce VanWyngarden's editor's letter, "The Big Empties" ...
Yes, positive things are happening downtown and in Midtown. But rather than the obligatory references to Jack Belz and Henry Turley, I would like to see the grass-roots organizations, most notably Memphis Heritage, get credit for the endless amount of energy they have expended in making all of this a reality.
The Belz family certainly jump-started downtown's rebirth when they purchased and restored the Peabody, but, as a founding member of the Chickasaw Bluffs Conservancy, all I remember of Henry Turley is he and Mayor Herenton fighting us tooth-and-nail for 10 years to prevent the Bluffwalk from being built on the site where Turley's million-dollar homes overlooked the river.
Research all the restoration projects listed in that article and you will find Memphis Heritage and other activist groups heavily involved in all, including the battle at Overton Square. Good article, and easy to mention the household names, but there are foot soldiers out there working on these issues every day.
The comment regarding the work of MHA director Robert Lipscomb — especially concerning public housing redevelopment — deserves closer examination. As a graduate student in city planning at the University of Memphis, we have examined both the city's treatment of public housing and its strategy of using huge sums of public money to finance big-ticket development projects in our studies.
In regards to public housing: While this system has assuredly had many problems in Memphis and throughout the country, affordable housing is a critical need for the most vulnerable of our population. As one example of the importance of public housing, low-income single mothers often use subsidized housing as a stepping stone to a better life as they are able to save more money and/or get additional training that leads to better employment opportunities.
When bundled with needed social support systems, HOPE VI (now Choice Neighborhoods) can work, but these safety nets are often absent in the aftermath of relocation. In the worst cases, relocated tenants end up homeless when they cannot keep up with utility bills that were formerly subsidized in public housing. The new mixed-income communities offer minimal affordable housing units, thereby essentially facilitating gentrification.
In regards to big-ticket development projects that have been the calling card under the Lipscomb's direction, it is hardly time to declare victory in the use of this strategy. Before we hand him his gold watch, I think a balanced examination of Lipscomb's record is needed.
About the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act ...
Imagine you are out for a hike with your dog and he gets caught in a steel-jawed leg trap that someone set out on our public lands. Or your children are exploring the woods and they come across a trap. That will be very possible if a bill now moving through Congress becomes law.
The bill, known as the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act (S. 405), is anything but sporting. Already, the majority of our public lands are open to hunting, so there is no shortage of access for hunters. But this bill would, for the first time, expand the federal definition of "hunting" to include trapping, and that would open all U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands to hunting and trapping. Steel traps, basically landmines for wildlife, introduce another risk to your child or pet. Traps are notoriously cruel and barbaric, with animals struggling in pain for hours or days before death. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that up to 67 percent of animals caught in leg traps are not the intended target and that many "mistakenly" caught and then released do not recover.
This legislation is unnecessary and unfair. Senator Lamar Alexander is an important vote on this bill. Please contact him and let him know that you oppose trapping on public land.