Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Memphis: A Way Forward?

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 9:49 AM

I see that Mayor A C Wharton has focused on that "miserable city" tag hung on Memphis by Forbes magazine recently. Maybe it will be a tipping point like the "southern backwater" label stuck on Memphis in 1968 after the King assassination.

I wasn't around then but over the years I have interviewed and gotten to know several people who were. What they seem to agree upon is that the negative perception became a cause for action for something positive. Memphis resolved to do better. It took many years and the results were decidedly mixed, but the general feeling, I was told, was that the rap had some truth to it and so what do we do now, short term and long term?

One answer may be found in two of our biggest companies and corporate citizens: AutoZone and FedEx and their relentless emphasis on customer service. Maybe that should be the not-so-new government motto.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grassphalt Anyone?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Is the new parking surface at the Fairgrounds going to be grass or asphalt? Neither one. It's an artificial grass mat that will increase, not decrease the number of parking spaces, officials told the City Council Tuesday.

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Beer, Panhandling Ordinances Move Ahead

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM

In a jam-packed committee room, a Memphis City Council committee voted Tuesday to move ahead with two ordinances regulating the sale of beer and aggressive panhandling downtown.

It will be at least six weeks before the ordinances take effect if the full council approves them. Members and staffers have been swamped with calls on this one.

The ordinances were supported by The Peabody, Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin, the Center City Commission, and the Downtown Neighborhood Association among others. A couple of supporters brought signs that said "Please help make downtown safer for our families to live," and one couple brought their baby in a stroller.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Change or Not to Change

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 7:17 PM

I'm a sucker for books about change. I want to be a better person, writer, and athlete. So I feast on books like "Outliers," "Freakonomics," "Googled," "The Tipping Point" and a new one by Chip Heath and Dan Heath called "Switch."

And I don't change, or at least not much. Maybe reading and thinking about change is a poor substitute for making friends, taking piano lessons, writing a novel, and doing more pushups. Which brings me to the slightly weird campaign to reinvent local government. Big Brother meets Up With People and the Chamber of Commerce. I'm not sure who and what is behind this and why, but I know one thing: the proper role of journalists is to be journalists, not boosters.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

On Reinventing Government

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 12:52 PM

Don't ask someone who has been laid off, robbed, can't pay the house note, recently waited in line to get their car inspected, or didn't get their trash picked up last month to worry much about the face of government two or three years from now.

This is the problem with reinventing city and county government. Most of us have more immediate concerns.

The county charter commission is in the early stages of its labors. Reinventing government could be a good idea. Or it could be a way of diverting time and leadership from more pressing, fixable problems. A way of doing something without doing anything.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Clock Ticking Down on Budget and Schools

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Next week's Memphis City Council meeting could be a doozy.

On the agenda: an updated budget forecast and funding options for Memphis City Schools.

And unlike previous talk-talk meetings, this time the council may have to make a big decision or two about tax increases, pay cuts, and spending reserve funds.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ewing Featured in New Book about Ken Starr and Clintons

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Hickman Ewing Jr.
  • (photo by Trey Harrison)
  • Hickman Ewing Jr.
Former federal prosecutor Hickman Ewing Jr. is featured in a new book about Kenneth Starr's battle with Bill and Hillary Clinton, "Clash of the Titans."

The book by Ken Gormley was reviewed this week in The Wall Street Journal. Ewing was United States attorney in Memphis during the 1980s before joining Starr's staff during the Whitewater investigation in the Clinton years. This excerpt is from the review.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy Come Easy Go; My Easy Way is Gone

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 7:19 PM

It was a bummer when I stopped at Easy Way on Cleveland this afternoon and saw the empty parking lot, the empty shelves, and the sign that said the grocery store and produce market was permanently closed and the suggestion to visit one of their other stores in Memphis.

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Prominent Memphian Shares Views on Consolidation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Here is a statement by a prominent Memphian on the issues of consolidation and school funding.

It was prompted by a fiscal crisis and, in particular, a proposed City of Memphis property tax contribution of $87.5 million to Memphis City Schools following an $89 million contribution the previous year and $78 million the year before that.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Media Notes: Winners and Losers

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Blogs are fading. Newspapers are dying. Or they're not dying. Or there is renewed hope for them.

The news about blogs comes from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, via the Associated Press. Only 14 percent of Internet youths, whatever they are, blog, which is down from over 25 percent in 2006. Apparently texting and Facebook are faster and more engaging. Bloggers are trending older, and may soon look like the AARP crowd at University of Memphis basketball games.

This is no surprise. As newspaper columnist Mike Royko used to say, the first 20 are easy.

Meanwhile, are you looking for an investment in which you could have tripled your money in the last year? That would be newspaper stocks, including E. W. Scripps, parent company of The Commercial Appeal. The stock (symbol: SSP) is up 305 percent, rising from $2 to $6.48. If you want a ten-bagger, try Lee Enterprises, parent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, up 1145 percent, now selling at $3.84. No guts no glory.

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