Friday, May 25, 2018

Airport Fires Back at New York Times Story

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 2:10 PM

  • Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority - Facebook

Memphis airport officials were stung Wednesday by a New York Times story that painted a "bleak, negative picture" of the airport in the days since the Delta de-hub.

Available flights to and from Memphis International Airport plummeted in the years after Delta's decision to close the hub here in 2013. Since then, airport officials have worked to bring more flights and new airlines to its roster. Also, the airport just started a five-year plan to modernize and rightsize itself.

The Times story by Alan Blinder is headlined "The Trouble With the Memphis Airport: No Crowds." It said the airport here was learning "how to shrink gracefully." But instead of talking of the efforts made to grow flights back to Memphis, Blinder pointed to the empty concourses and "deserted corridors."
  • New York Times

The descriptions chafed airport president and CEO Scott Brockman who, in a letter to members of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority, noted the "the article paints a very bleak, negative picture." 

Brockman said he spent an hour with Blinder and "what we shared with this reporter was much different than what is portrayed in the story ..."

Brockman pointed to his team's "relentless pursuit of frequent and affordable air service," and the increase of enplanements (the number of passengers getting on and off of flights), that airfares have fallen, recruitment of new airlines, and more.

Brockman said the reporter and photographer were given tours of the still-open (and busy) A and C concourses and of the now-closed B-concourse.

"It’s an indictment of this article’s goal that when the reporter and photographer arrived at the A gates, passengers were backed up into the A/B connector and the gates were very full," Brockman said. "Yet, the photo of the A gate that was used shows only a few passengers."

To close, Brockman called the story a "gross misrepresentation of our airport."

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Confederate Statues Ready to Go (Just Not to Shelby County)

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 1:06 PM

Crowds gathering in Health Sciences Park to support the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue.
  • Crowds gathering in Health Sciences Park to support the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue.

Memphis’ old Confederate statues are safe and crated in their secret location and they are ready for purchase and display, just not in Shelby County.

Greenspace Inc, the nonprofit agency that bought two Memphis parks last year, asked Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in a letter Thursday to help them identify a buyer for the two statues removed from the parks. The letter also included a draft of a request for proposals (RFP) for potential buyers.

“Once responses are received, we ask for your help in identifying qualified persons to assist our board of directors in evaluating the proposals and determining the best course of action,” reads the letter from Greenspace president Van Turner Jr. 
  • Jefferson Davis statue

A statue of Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed from Health Sciences Park. Another statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was removed from Memphis Park.

Another statue, a bust of Confederate Army Captain J. Harvey Mathes, was also removed from Memphis Park but was not listed for sale in Greenspace’s letter to Haslam.

The other two, though, are ready to go. But the going might not be easy. According to the RFP, the bronze Forrest statue is 12 feet tall and weighs 5.5 tons. Its brick base is seven feet tall with four marble overlay pieces.

The Davis statue is eight feet tall with an 11-foot grant base. Its weight is unknown but the statue is hollow.

If a nonprofit (the RFP said Greenspace will only sell to qualified nonprofits) can move the statues, they will also have to come and remove the pedestals from the parks and restore the parkland after removal.

But that removal will not impact the graves of Forrest and his wife at Health Sciences Park, according to Turner’s letter.
“Since the Chancery Court ruling, there have been many inaccurate rumors and statements relating to the condition of the statues and the impact the ruling has had on the graves located at Health Sciences Park,” Turner wrote. “Let me assure you the graves have [been] and will remain untouched absent the descendants’ request to have the remains relocated.“

Nonprofits must prove financial stability, providing tax documents for the last three years. They’ll have to pay all costs with moving the statues, removing the pedestals, and fixing the parks.

They must agree to maintain and preserve the statues and exhibit them in a public place, preferably in a place that offers free public access and historical context. The new owners must also agree not to move the statues for the next 25 years. Just don’t put them here.

“Statues cannot be relocated to Shelby County, whether on public or private property, at any time…” reads the RFP.

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