Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wharton Wants Forrest Statue Removed From Park

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 5:37 PM

Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park

In one of the many reactions to the murders in the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting last week, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton announced Thursday that he wants the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest removed from Health Sciences Park.

The recent attention that has been given to the dismissal of the Confederate flag from state capitals since the shooting has put more pressure on Southern political leaders to make a statement on any remnants of Confederate history.

“We are simply saying that there might be a more appropriate place,” said Wharton. “In the case of the flag, put it in a museum. Don’t put it out in common places. You see, we all have t

o drive down Union Avenue. It’s a common, unavoidable place. If someone wishes to see that, then go over to the cemetery in the peace of solitude, tranquility, and reverence and do it there. What Americans would say, I’d like to have a picnic in the shadow Bedford Forrest?”

Forrest fought in the Confederate army and is declared by many as one of the original leaders of the Klu Klux Klan, although any public involvement with the group is harder to pin down. Both his and his wife’s bodies are buried near the statue in Health Sciences Park. Their remains were originally buried at Elmwood Cemetery, but they were moved to the park in 1904.

The call for the statue's removal comes only two years after the name of the park itself was changed. In February 2013, the park was renamed from Forrest Park to its current name in a vote by the Memphis City Council.

The final decision on moving the statue and the bodies would have to be made by the Memphis City Council, making the Mayor’s declaration just a declaration. Any decision would have to come from the council and will likely receive much opposition from groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Wharton made it clear that removal of other Confederate symbols, specifically the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, around the city was a discussion for another day. His thoughts on the Forrest statue, however, according to the Mayor, are simple.

“We have an opportunity to just go ahead and remove this monument to a horrible time of the history of our state and nation,” Wharton said. “Let’s just do it.”


Tags: , , ,

Memphis City Council Approves Budget, Raises for City Employees

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 1:22 PM

screen_shot_2015-06-25_at_1.25.25_pm.png
After two days and nearly 10 hours of debate in the chamber, the Memphis City Council passed a budget for the next fiscal year Tuesday morning.

When debate opened Tuesday morning, the budget stood at $656 million. The council added 2 percent raises for police officers and fire fighters and 1 percent raises for all other city employees. The raises added $3.1 million to the budget for a total of $656 million.

The raises were the first order of business Tuesday. They were proposed by council member Reid Hedgepeth during last week’s regular meeting. Though raises represent less than 1 percent of the overall budget, they consumed most of the debate on the entire $661 million budget.

Reid’s proposal gave raises of 2 percent to police and fire only. It was amended by a proposal from council member Edmund Ford Jr. to include a 1 percent raise to the rest of the city’s employees.

The money to pay for the raises will come from cutting some funded but unfilled positions in the Memphis Police Department.

The council approved the raises but completely circumvented the impasse process. That process, set up after labor struggles of 1978, give city employee unions a vote by three-member council committees if unions can’t get a deal worked out with the city’s mayor and administration.

Impasse committees approved several raises this year and rejected others. However, those decisions weren’t considered by the council Tuesday. On advice from the city council’s attorney Allan Wade, the group ignored the impasse decisions, allowing the budget vote to supersede them.

This drew the ire of many council members, including Harold Collins and Janis Fullilove.

“I’m not sure what we went through the impasse process when it means absolutely nothing, just to make some time during the day to say we’re doing something?” Fullilove asked. “We are making a joke of our political process. I never thought I’d say this in my life but I am so sorry to be on this council with many of you.”

Collins said the council could vote the impasse decision up or down but they should not circumvent the process.

“We are setting the wrong precedent by what we’re doing here today,” Collins said. “Hedgepeth offered what I considered a worthy alternative (to the impasse decisions). But it is not right. We have to do what the ordinance tells us and the law tells us first, then we have to proceed.”

Many proposals for raises were raised, defeated, and even turned down by labor unions in the chaotic budget season that began in April. In the end, it was the chaos that had many council members “baffled.”

“I am shocked today,” said council member Wanda Halbert. “I’m like some of you (in the audience), I’m baffled by all of this. … This budget seasons had been very different form the rest in the last seven years.”

Halbert then, called for the question, meaning she wished to stop all debate on the budget and take a final vote.

Council members Berlin Boyd, Alan Crone, Kemp Conrad, Ford, Halbert, Hedgepeth, Myron Lowery, Bill Morrison, and Jim Strickland voted for the budget.

Council members Bill Boyd, Joe Brown, Collins, and Fullilove voted against it. 

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, June 22, 2015

University of Memphis Raises Tuition

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 3:15 PM

M. David Rudd
  • M. David Rudd
The University of Memphis announced today that tuition will be increasing once again. However, the hike is being downplayed due to the fact that this is the lowest increase in 18 years.

Undergraduate tuition will be increasing by 3.7 percent to a total of $7,320 per year plus mandatory fees of $1,583 for those from in-state who are taking a full academic course load.

Law students have the smallest tuition increase percentage-wise due to their already drastically more expensive fees. Their tuition is increasing by two percent, but students in the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will now have to pay $16,312, in addition to $1,475 in fees.

Graduate students will see the largest increase, going up 3.9 percent or $18 per credit hour. This will come to $9,580 a year, plus $1,589 in fees.

With the approval today by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), it marks an increase in tuition for the Tigers that is less than half the average hike (8 percent) in the past 15 years.

“The Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Memphis remain committed to providing a high-quality education at an affordable cost,” said University of Memphis President M. David Rudd. “We are able to minimize the increase because of continuing cost containment and efficiency measures.”

While the increase may be nothing to cause panic for most students, it does come after a year where the tuition remained the same. 

Tags: , , ,

Opposition Heating Up on 'Old Bridge' Closure

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 10:30 AM

uopfsifxkyrlmjb-800x450-nopad.jpg


More than 1,500 people have signed a new change.org petition online in opposition to the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) plan to close the Memphis Arkansas Bridge to build a new interchange at Crump and I-55.

The petition was started last week by Arkansas state senator Keith M. Ingram, who is also a former mayor of West Memphis. In his petition, Ingram wrote the plan to close the “Old Bridge” is “not just an inconvenience. It’s dangerous.”

“Closing the ‘Old Bridge’ will devastate local economies throughout eastern Arkansas and will cripple emergency services in the event of an accident or natural disaster,” Ingram said in the petition.

He’s asked petitioners to tell TDOT, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to “go back to the drawing board and develop a solution that works best for everyone.”

Find out more about the petition here

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Carry-On Bag Reduction on Hold

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 2:09 PM

IATA's Thomas Windmuller announces the Cabin OK program in Miami last week. - IATA
  • IATA
  • IATA's Thomas Windmuller announces the Cabin OK program in Miami last week.


The airline industry has hit the brakes on its program to shrink the size of carry-on luggage “in light of concerns expressed primarily in North America.”

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade group representing most airlines, launched the initiative, called Cabin OK, last week. It would have shrunk the maximum size of luggage carried onto a flight by 21 percent.

Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen filed a bill late Monday evening to block the move. His “Carry-On Freedom Act” would have stopped any airline that charges passengers for checked baggage from reducing the size of carry-ons.

The IATA announced Wednesday they were pausing the rollout of the program “and beginning a comprehensive reassessment.”

“While many welcomed the Cabin OK initiative, significant concerns were expressed in North America,” Tom Windmuller, IATA senior vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security said in a statement. “The IATA Cabin OK is a voluntary program for airlines and for consumers. This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travelers. We need to get it right.”

Cohen said the program was would have forced consumers to “pay exorbitant checked bag fees for luggage they would have otherwise carried on or purchase new luggage.”

“At a time when it seems that profits, not passengers, are the first consideration of airlines, this announcement is a victory for consumers,” Cohen said in a statement. “This was a transparent attempt to squeeze even more money out of passengers and I hope the industry’s ‘reassessment’ of the Cabin OK initiative results in them scrapping the plan completely.” 

Convention & Visitors Bureau Celebrates Memphis Tourism Increase

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 1:38 PM

Kevin Kane
  • Kevin Kane
If you weren’t at the Peabody Hotel on Tuesday, you missed one big show celebrating Memphis. That's when the who's who of Memphis tourism gathered at the Peabody for the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau's (CVB) annual luncheon meeting.

With hundreds in attendance, from Mayor A C Wharton to the ducks from the historic hotel, the Convention & Visitors Bureau celebrated their accomplishments in flashy style. Multiple awards were given out throughout the lunch, including one given posthumously to B.B. King to celebrate his contributions to Memphis and what he meant to the city. His granddaughter and drummer accepted the award on his behalf.

The event celebrated the progress the city has made in increasing revenue from tourism, including hotel occupancy increasing by nine percent last year. In addition, Memphis attractions had five million visitors last year.

Throughout the event, videos showcasing Memphis neighborhoods and positive city reforms were screened. This included a video celebrating the success of Overton Square in Midtown.

To close off the event, CVB President and CEO Kevin Kane issued a call for improvements to the Cook Convention Center, so that even more people and groups would be attracted to Memphis.


Tags: , , ,

Floating the Big Muddy: Shelby Forest to Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 11:28 AM

screen_shot_2015-06-17_at_11.28.04_am.png

Toby Sells' Flyer cover story this week is called "Embracing the Big Muddy," a look at the recreational aspects of the Mississippi River. The story is available in the print version today and posts on MemphisFlyer.com tomorrow.

Here's a little teaser — some video Toby took of last weekend's overnight kayak/camping trip.

State Partners With Churches to Help Addicts

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 at 10:56 AM

screen_shot_2015-06-17_at_10.23.53_am.png
On Tuesday afternoon, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services celebrated the launch of its new Recovery Church initiative at St. John's United Methodist Church in Memphis.

The Recovery Church program offers resources to faith-based organizations that provide free-to-the-public services for people dealing with substance abuse. The state's program will help connect churches that offer recovery programs.

"We're linking them together to share resources," said Monty Burks, director of special projects for the Division of Substance Abuse Services. "Some smaller churches don't have resources, but other big churches, like High Point Church or Bellevue Baptist, have huge resources. So we say, well, you do this, and they can do that, but they can't do this, and we partner them together."

The initiative officially launched in April, but the kick-off was held in Memphis this week. Although the program runs statewide, Memphis was chosen for the launch because of its large number of churches. The Greater Memphis Metro area is home to more than 2,000 church communities.

At Tuesday's meeting, 21 Memphis faith-based organizations were recognized for their participation in the new program. 

"Addiction is more than just bad choices. It's insidious in what's going on in our in our schools, and our communities, and our churches. And what we've been doing is not working," said Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Douglas Varney. 

Varney told those gathered at St. John's that programs offered in churches are the answer to solving the state's substance abuse problems.

Burks said they're looking for more churches to sign on to the program. Any faith leaders interested in getting involved can reach Burks at 615-770-1783 or email him here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Council Punts Budget Vote

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 8:54 PM

1389124438-images.jpg


The Memphis City Council did not approve a city budget during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night as many council members said they had too many questions unanswered by Memphis mayor A C Wharton’s administration.

Instead, the council voted Tuesday to take up the budget again on Tuesday, June 23 at 8:30 a.m.

But here’s a few things the council got done on the budget Tuesday night:

• They approved $100,000 for Hospitality Hub, an organization that provides services to homeless people.
• Approved $200,000 to hire an administrator and two support staffers for the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board
• The cut more than $340,000 from the budget for new positions in the mayor’s office that wold have been focused on helping more minority businesses get city contracts.

The council adjourned the regular meeting at around 8: 45 p.m. The session began at 2:30 p.m.

When they return to the adjourned meeting, they’ll vote on a proposal from council member Reid Hedgepeth that would keep the budget as the council has amended it so far and give a 2 percent raise to police and fire fighters starting January, a move that will cost $2.7 million next year and $5.4 million in the next full fiscal year.

The amended budget includes about $837,000 in council cuts. It also includes an additional $1.5 million in new revenues that was earmarked Tuesday for an additional, one-time payment to the city’s underfunded pension fund.

With the council cuts and the new revenue, the budget came in only about $200,000 over the mayor’s proposed budget. At the beginning of Tuesday regular session, the budget stood at $658.3 million.

A swirl of numbers and accounting terms quickly muddied the waters of discussion Tuesday. It frustrated many council members who asked sometimes technical questions of the city finance staff who sometimes could not get the answers right away. Much of this confusion was summed up by the newest council member Alan Crone.

“I don’t want to spend money we don’t have. I don’t want to tell our workers and our retirees that there’s no money when there is money. I don’t want to vote against a 2 percent raise for police and fire because they deserve it, and more, an better. With respect to the mayor’s officials who are here tonight who try to answer these questions, I appreciate the effort they made.

“It’s been very difficult from the questions asked for me to sort out whether or not we have the money or we don’t have money. What’s the responsible thing to do and the best interest for taxpayers? We owe our responsibility to the employees and retirees and we owe it as a council to taxpayers to make sure money spent wisely.”

Rape Kit Update

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 1:14 PM

More than half of the total back-logged inventory of rape kits have now been analyzed or are awaiting analysis at labs, the city's Sexual Assault Kit (SAK) Taskforce revealed today.

This month's report shows that 53 percent of the kits have been tested or are at labs. As a result of the DNA tests conducted so far, the Memphis Police Department (MPD) has initiated 566 investigations — 163 are active and 403 have closed. Those closed investigations have netted 98 indictment requests of known individuals or for DNA profiles. There have been 58 suspects identified, and 26 of them are multi-case offenders.

The $1 million sexual assault kit storage facility is nearing completion, and the SAK Taskforce expects it will be ready for move-in by late July.

The MPD is asking anyone who has previously reported a sexual assault to call their hotline and check on the status of their case. That number is 901-636-3438.

screen_shot_2015-06-16_at_1.12.27_pm.png

Tags: , , , ,

Cohen Fights Carry-On Bag Reduction

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 11:03 AM

An IATA photo shows the size of a bag that fits the new proposed size guidelines. - IATA
  • IATA
  • An IATA photo shows the size of a bag that fits the new proposed size guidelines.
The airlines want to shrink the size of your carry-on bag but Rep. Steve Cohen is fighting back.

Last week the International Air Transport Association [IATA] proposed reducing the size of passengers’ carry-on luggage by 21 percent. So far, eight airlines have adopted the new guidelines.

Monday night Cohen introduced the Carry-On Freedom Act to block the proposal. The law would block any airline that charges passengers for checked baggage to reduce the size of carry-ons. Cohen said airlines are squeezing passengers “physically and fiscally” and that the new proposal was a “step too far.”

“It is a transparent attempt to squeeze even more money out of passengers by forcing them to pay baggage fees to check luggage they purchased specifically to avoid those fees,” Cohen said in a statement. “The new proposed carry-on size limits should not be allowed to go into effect, especially at a time when the airlines are already making huge profits.”

IATA said the new bag size proposal - called the Cabin OK initiative - would make things easier on passengers and that the move “aims to provide passengers with a greater assurance that their carry-on bags will travel with them in the aircraft cabin, even when the flight is full.”



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

City-County Planning Office Partners with Nextdoor

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 1:33 PM

Today, the Memphis & Shelby County Office of Planning & Development will begin using Nextdoor, the social network for neighborhoods, to communicate with area residents.

The office is the first public agency in the city to partner with Nextdoor, the site where neighbors connect on private pages for their individual neighborhoods. The site is primarily used by neighbors to share information about crimes or suspicious activity, lost or found pets, housing repair and lawncare services, and other neighborhood concerns. 

The planning and development office will use the platform to inform residents about community meetings, proposals, zoning cases, and ongoing planning projects. They'll also use the site to solicit input from neighborhood residents. 

“Memphis is one of the leading practitioners of the unitary approach to planning in the nation. With unitary planning, the zoning of a community represents its comprehensive master plan. As such, neighborhood participation in each zoning case is of the utmost importance,” said Josh Whitehead, planning director of the Office of Planning and Development. “With Nextdoor, we can work directly with residents to make sure they have the most up-to-date information about potential developments and proposals in their neighborhood and engage in the city’s site-specific, granular planning efforts.”

The office will have its private Nextdoor site, and it will not have access to private neighborhood pages.

screen_shot_2015-06-10_at_1.32.50_pm.png

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Downtown Memphis Commission Begins Search for New Leader

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 3:42 PM

Paul Morris
  • Paul Morris
The Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) has released their requirements for its next president and CEO. Current DMC President and CEO Paul Morris is vacating his position to lead his family's business, Jack Morris Auto Glass.

DHL International was selected to lead the agency's search. According to a press release issued today, the DMC is looking for "a visionary, high-energy, downtown advocate." The position involves managing the DMC's staff, preparing its budget, work plan development and implementation, and "fostering positive relationships with downtown property owners, businesses, residents, public officials, the media, and the general public."

The requirements can be viewed on the DMC's website. Resumes and inquires can be emailed to Laura Faust at DHR International.


Tags: , ,

UPDATE: Bike Lanes, Turn Lanes Headed to Union Avenue

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 11:38 AM

THOMAS R MACHNITZKI, WIKIMEDIA
  • Thomas R Machnitzki, Wikimedia


UPDATE:

Kyle Wagenshutz, the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the City of Memphis Division of Engineering, said the state grant covers a half-mile stretch of Union between Marshall and Pauline and likely won't get under construction for two or three years.

The project will total $1 million once the city kicks in its $50,000 match to draw the grant funds.

Most of that money will be spent on upgrades for pedestrians and those with disabilities, he said, including sidewalk repairs, crosswalks, new transit stops, curb and gutter replacements, and more access ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A left turn lane and the striping for bike lanes will be added later in the project and will only total 5 percent of the total project cost.

The bike lanes in the Union project will complement those to be striped at major intersections in The Edge and the Medical District, he said. In the next 18 months, new lanes will be striped around Marshall, Pauline, Manassas, and Dunlap. 

Bicycle traffic largely avoids car-dominant Union Avenue. Wagenshutz said. But Union has been in the sights of planners since 2011, he said, and there has “been a lot of consensus around making it more bike friendly.”

“The Union corridor needs a re-do from top to bottom.” Wagenshutz said. “We’ll probably do this in these small, half-mile chunks for the foreseeable future.”

The turn lane in the project will be striped there because stakeholders in the area saw the success of the lane on Union close to Methodist University Hospital and requested it.

ORIGINAL POST: 

Union Avenue will get a makeover that includes bike lanes and left turn lanes thanks to a $950,000 grant from the state.

The city won a Multimodal Access Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation [TDOT] for a Complete Streets project along one of the city’s busiest corridors.

Here’s how state officials described the Union Avenue project in a news release:

“The project includes the reconfiguration of roadway striping to add bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane, repair and replacement of sidewalk panels, upgrades to pedestrian crossings, and relocation of transit shelters.

The improvements will allow safe access to a number of commercial, medical, and educational destinations, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Regional One Health hospital, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and Sun Studios.”

Full details of the plan were not immediately released from the state Tuesday. Check back here later for more information. 

Here's what TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said about the multimodal grants:

“Our responsibilities as a transportation agency go far beyond building roads and bridges,” Schroer said in a statement. “Providing safe access for different modes of transportation ultimately creates a more complete and diverse network for our users. These projects are also extremely cost effective, which allows TDOT to make improvements in more areas across the state.”


Union Avenue will get a makeover that includes bike lanes and left turn lanes thanks to a $950,000 grant from the state.

The city won a Multimodal Access Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation [TDOT] for a Complete Streets project along one of the city’s busiest corridors.

Here’s how state officials described the Union Avenue project in a news release:

“The project includes the reconfiguration of roadway striping to add bike lanes and a two-way left turn lane, repair and replacement of sidewalk panels, upgrades to pedestrian crossings, and relocation of transit shelters.

The improvements will allow safe access to a number of commercial, medical, and educational destinations, including Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Regional One Health hospital, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and Sun Studios.”

Full details of the plan were not immediately released from the state Tuesday. Check back here later for more information. 

Here's what TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said about the multimodal grants:

“Our responsibilities as a transportation agency go far beyond building roads and bridges,” Schroer said in a statement. “Providing safe access for different modes of transportation ultimately creates a more complete and diverse network for our users. These projects are also extremely cost effective, which allows TDOT to make improvements in more areas across the state.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

OneJet Will Offer Nonstop Flights to Indianapolis

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2015 at 12:32 PM

Another airline carrier is being added to Memphis International Airport's growing roster of smaller regional and affordable carriers. OneJet will offer nonstop service to Indianapolis beginning June 22nd.

Every Monday through Thursday, the flight will leave Indianapolis at 8:30 a.m. and arrive in Memphis at 8:50 a.m. And it will depart Memphis at 3:15 p.m. later that day and arrive in Indianapolis at 5:25 p.m. 

“We’re extremely pleased to introduce OneJet Service to Memphis” said Matthew Maguire, OneJet chief executive officer. “The Memphis business community has strong links with, and significant travel demand to, other cities currently in our network. Our decision to add Memphis reflects not only the particularly meaningful level of Fortune 100 demand in these markets but also the long-term opportunity to create broader benefit for customers across our network.”

Tickets will be available for purchase beginning June 11th.

screen_shot_2015-06-08_at_12.30.59_pm.png

Tags: ,

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Top Viewed Stories

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation