Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday Data Nerd-Out: Tennessee Power

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 11:14 AM


TIL Tennessee gets one-seventh of its total electricity from renewables and most of that is from hydropower. Also, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) generates 90 percent of the state's total electric energy.
A solar panel array at Agricenter International. - MLGW
  • MLGW
  • A solar panel array at Agricenter International.

This is all according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Today, I also learned there was such a thing as the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA published a new data portal Friday packed with information about how the country — and each state in it — gets its power and how it uses it.

It’s not all about electricity, either. The data show that more than half of all power generated in Tennessee comes from petroleum. Electricity and natural gas come in second and third, respectively.

  • U.S. Energy Information Administration

When it does come to electricity in the Volunteer State, nearly half (42 percent) of ours comes from nuclear power, according to the EIA. Coal comes next (37 percent) and then renewables (10 percent).

  • U.S. Energy Information Administration
Some other fun facts from the EIA: “Tennessee's one petroleum refinery, located in Memphis, can process about 180,000 barrels of crude oil per calendar day. The facility receives some its oil via a pipeline from Oklahoma.”

Nerd out on the data yourself here.

You like state rankings? The EIA database is full of them. Some of them are below. Tennessee is the yellow bubble. Its national rank is above the bubble. Blue bubbles are all the other states.
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration

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Beale Cover Likely to Generate $500K for Security Measures This Summer

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 10:43 AM

  • Beale Street Merchants Association
  • Beale Street

Since the $5 cover charge to enter Beale Street has been reinstated, nearly $400,000 has been collected, but officials with the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) say none of the funds have been spent yet.

The Beale Street cover charge was reinstated in early May after a weekend of shootings and stampedes occurred on or near Beale Street.

The following Tuesday, Memphis Police Department Director (MPD) Michael Rallings, along with representatives with the DMC asked the Memphis City Council to put the fee back in place. It was originally slated to be in place only through Memorial Day weekend, but after more incidents occurred over the holiday weekend, Rallings returned to council again in June, asking that the fee stay in place through the end of September.

Between the second weekend in May and the second weekend in July, the entrance fee has been collected from 99,481 visitors totaling $382,460. But, none of that money has been spent yet, according to the DMC.

Officials anticipate that the fee will generate $644,000 by the end of September if there are no rain days. Assuming there are some rain days, about $500,000 will be generated. This amount will be enough to cover the intended uses of the funds prescribed the city council, according to the DMC.

Per the council, the money will eventually be used for additional lighting and cameras on Beale, a new, non-climbable fence around Handy Park that will prohibit items from being passed through, bollards on Rufus Thomas and Second Street, and closer real-time monitoring of cameras on Beale.

The enhanced monitoring of Beale will cost $75,000 a year, while the fence will be a one time expense of $200,000, the additional lighting and cameras are a one time expense of $30,000 each, and the bollards $165,000. 

DMC officials say they are working to “maximize the utilization of these funds to further our security measures.” The commission is in the process of evaluating which sections of the street need more lighting and preparing the fence project for bid.

Jennifer Oswalt, president of the DMC, said by installing more and better lighting, safer street access, and other measures that promote pedestrian safety, the plan uses design elements to address some of the current security issues.

The goal is to “enhance the patron experience and change the way crowds moves through the street without creating an increase in the perceived level of security measures.”

“Memphis is the original American music city, and we owe so much of that to the authenticity of the Beale Street experience,” Oswalt said. “Working with the 24 security and safety recommendations determined by the consultant hired in 2018, we are developing a plan to create a truly welcoming and safe entertainment district.”

In early 2018, the city hired the firm Event Risk Management Solutions to find ways to control the crowd on Beale. The firm, led by Peter Ashwin, produced 24 recommendations for the city. Among them was the reintroduction of the entrance fee.

The council voted then to reinstate the fee on an as-needed basis, despite push back from some members. Now, the fee will be in place through the end of September and will likely return next summer.

Other recommendations included setting the maximum capacity on the street to 20,000 people, restricting Beale Street to pedestrian traffic only, and redesigning the street’s entry points. All 24 recommendations have been implemented at this point.

DMC staff believes that the fee, working in conjunction with the other 23 recommendations, is leading to less overcrowding on weekend nights and reducing the overall risk of an incident occurring on the street.

This story has been updated with the latest admission numbers from the DMC.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

'Deadliest Catch' Cast Member to Serve More Than Four Years

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 1:22 PM

  • Deadliest Catch/Facebook

A former “Deadliest Catch” cast member was sentenced to 51 months recently on charges stemming from an arrest in West Tennessee.

Jason King, 43, was known as “Tennessee” on the Discovery Channel show. He appeared as himself as a deckhand on the Cornelia Marie.

Officers with the Hardin’s County Sheriff’s Office, the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives executed a search warrant and felony arrest warrant for King at his residence in Couce, Tennessee.

Officers found multiple bags of cannabis totaling over 14 pounds hidden under the house. They also found a fully loaded Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver in a kitchen drawer.

Officials said because King had an “extensive” criminal history and was a felon, he was given the maximum sentence within the guideline range for these offenses. United States District Court Chief Judge Thomas Anderson sentenced King to 51 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant
  • U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant

“Convicted felons who possess firearms in connection with illegal drugs are inherently dangerous individuals,” U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant said in a statement. " Our outstanding federal, state, and local law enforcement partners were able to catch this outlaw, and his prior criminal record finally caught up with him. This conviction and sentence will remove a repeat offender from the community, and will protect public safety in West Tennessee.”

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Memphis Pets of the Week

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 1:07 PM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures and more information can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Agency Aims to Fight Factory Farm Rules

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 1:15 PM

Factory farms got looser laws thanks to state lawmakers last year but as that deregulation becomes a reality, some worry about the extra animal waste that comes with it.

On Monday, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) heard from the public on water-quality regulations for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO), or large livestock farming operations.

Previously “medium-sized” factory farms that had as many as 699 dairy cows, 2,499 fully grown hogs, or up to 124,999 chickens had to get a state permit (SOP) if it met federal requirements, according to the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN).

That permit required these operations to have a state-approved plan for the storage, use, and disposal of animal waste. 
Two larges lagoons hold animal waste behind three barns on a factory farm. - TENNESSEE CLEAN WATER NETWORK
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network
  • Two larges lagoons hold animal waste behind three barns on a factory farm.

Now, “medium-sized” factory farms like these don’t have to have a permit at all and no plan for its animal waste.

“The intent of the loophole legislation was to attract more businesses to Tennessee,” said Kathy Hawes, executive director of TCWN. “But factory farms that generate millions of pounds of animal waste are not the sort of businesses we want in a state known for its beautiful waterways.”

How much animal waste is generated by those medium-sized factory farms?
”Imagine a packed Neyland Stadium at UT vs Alabama,” reads a statement from the TCWN. “If those fans were trapped in there for 24 hours, they would generate more than 200,000 pounds of waste.

“The same amount of swine in that stadium? Over a million pounds in one day.”

If improperly stored, animal waste at these farms can contaminate groundwater and run off into natural waterways like lakes, rivers, and ponds.

The Sierra Club says factory-farm waste produces more than 168 gases, including hazardous chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. Airborne particulate matter found near them can carry disease-causing bacteria, fungus, or other pathogens. These farms are also home to “infestations of flies, rats, and other vermin.”

When the bill was debated in the Tennessee General Assembly last year, Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan) a pork producer in his district had an operation worth more than $100 million.

“I have farmers in my district in West Tennessee, as you know it is the largest agricultural part of the state, and they are coming to me saying, ‘I don’t want TDEC in my business,’ Wirgau said.

See the full debate here:

The new rules have been placed on public notice. The deadline to comment is July 25th.

"TDEC may have the last say when it comes to executing these laws, but TCWN will put its thoughts to paper first - for any Tennessean to read," Hawes said. "TCWN will issue a comment letter about these rules to TDEC by their deadline date of July 25."

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Manuel Duran Has Seen ‘Disastrous Effects’ of Trump’s Immigration Policy

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Manuel Duran and SPLC attorney Gracie Willis - MAYA SMITH
  • Maya Smith
  • Manuel Duran and SPLC attorney Gracie Willis

Manuel Duran, the Memphis journalist who was released on bond last week after being detained for 15 months, said he’s seen firsthand the “disastrous effects” of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policy and the “cruelty of the mass incarceration of immigrants.”

At a Wednesday press conference, Duran called these policies “unnecessary and inhumane.”

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the pain and suffering caused by family separation,” a translator said on behalf of Duran. “ICE is destroying our families for no reason. What is the purpose of these attacks on our communities?”

After Duran was arrested in April 2018 while covering an immigration protest for Memphis Noticias, the local Spanish-language newspaper he owns, the misdemeanor charges against him were dropped by the Shelby County District Attorney’s office, but Duran was then handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and sent to an ICE processing center in Jena, Louisiana.

Duran would then spend the next 450 days in four different detention centers. The most recent was the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama.

During his time detained, Duran said he’s seen “working men, men with businesses, men who have lived their whole lives in this country, who have committed no crimes, crying and longing to be reunited with their families.”

Duran said his experience in each of the detention facilities were similarly difficult. The conditions are “not adequate,” he said. The detention centers were infested with pests, cockroaches, and spiders, Duran said.

At Etowah, Duran said he and other inmates had to bathe with water hoses in “very cold water,” and that the temperature in the facility wasn’t well-regulated.

“The air conditioner was under repair for most of the spring and we had to endure very high temperatures,” Duran said. “At Etowach, for weeks, for no reason, the heater was turned on to its full capacity. This happened during the summer and it was very difficult to sleep.”

In addition, Duran says detainees don’t have access to the outdoors or recreational spaces and are “locked up without being able to see the sunlight.”

Duran also noted that on two occasions, inmates were denied phone use for days at a time without being given an explanation.

He said prisoners aren’t served a substantial amount of food and the only way to get additional food is from the center’s commissary.

However, Duran said many of the inmates go hungry because they don’t have the financial support of their families or don’t have any family in the country.

“This experience has been very difficult for me and my family, psychologically and economically,” Duran said. “I feel that my life has turned 180 degrees and I’m still trying to adapt.”

Gracie Willis, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Duran’s next step is to file an asylum application. She said the court hearing for that is likely to be scheduled for the immigration court in Atlanta, but the SPLC will try to have it moved to Memphis so Manuel can “fight his case closer to home.”

Mauricio Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis, said Duran’s case is unique in that he had legal resources and community support.

“But this is not the norm,” Calvo said. “There are thousands and thousands of families around the country and here in Shelby County that are being separated every single day. It is happening here. Our ICE office is fully staffed and they are kicking doors every single day and racially profiling people for no other reason than political purposes.”

Calvo said people are being detained without judicial orders and “they are taking people’s rights away.”

“We’re not going to stop,” Calvo said. “We’re extremely excited that Manuel is here, but the battle is not over. We’re not going to stop until this American value of freedom, dignity, respect, and the chance at the American dream is the prevailing factor for most people.”

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Citing New State Law, Councilman Wary of Plastic Bag Ban

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 12:54 PM


One Memphis City Council member is hesitant to move forward with a plastic bag ban here after a state law passed in April prohibiting cities from regulating the use of them.

Councilman Worth Morgan said the “merits of the discussion are an interesting topic,” but the conversation should be had with state legislators: “We’re having it in the wrong place in a city council committee room and not in Nashville.”

Morgan said the newly-passed state law that bans local governments from regulating the “use, disposition, or sale of an auxiliary container” prohibits all local regulation of plastic bags and that a “ban constitutes a regulation.”

“It would be my preference that if we want to have this conversation, we drive to Nashville,” Morgan said. “I think right now this ordinance doesn’t have a place in Memphis City Council.”

Councilman Berlin Boyd, a co-sponsor of the ordinance along with Chairman Kemp Conrad, told Morgan he “begs to differ” and that the council has an “obligation to do what you can as local legislators to try and circumvent what happens in Nashville.”

“If we weren’t creative in our thinking about removing the Confederate statues, Nathan and his comrades would still be in our parks,” Boyd said. “We took the risk and did something and guess what? Those monuments are gone.

“We owe it to everyone. It’s our job to take risks. Give this a chance to try to make Memphis a green and clean city.”

The ban in question would prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags at checkouts in retail establishments with 2,000 square feet or more. Each violation of the ordinance would result in a $50 fine.

Boyd, who first brought forth the idea of plastic bag regulation in November, said the goal of the ban is to protect the environment and reduce overall waste, citing plastic-bag-riddled streets, waterways, and trees.

“Waterway protection is extremely important,” he said. “No matter what media outlet you’re looking at, our sea animals are basically inhaling and eating plastic bags.”

Boyd also said taxpayers pay between $2.5 and $3.5 million a year for plastic bag removal.

Dennis Lynch, chair of the Sierra Club in Memphis told the council he supports the ban, saying that plastic bags “encourage the throw-away society instead of getting people to recycle.”

He also noted environmental concerns similar to Boyd’s.

Councilwoman Robinson raised practical questions about the ban, like the effect it would have on elderly shoppers. She said for them plastic bags are easier to carry than large paper or reusable bags.

“I don’t want us to make an environmental decision that has a negative impact on the people that actually live here,” Robinson said. “How are we going to make sure they have what they need?”

Robinson said the council should be “very thoughtful we don’t have any unintended consequences.”

Boyd said that is a conversation the council should be having anyway, as Kroger, which has more than a dozen stores here, plans to completely phase out plastic bags by 2025.

But, ultimately, Boyd said shoppers will have to make behavior changes. “People will have to adjust to it.”

Swearengen, echoing Robinson, voiced concerns from her constituents in Orange Mound who shop at the Midtown Kroger on Union. She said many don’t have cars and as a result, bike or use public transit to get there. It’s easier for them to carry plastic bags than paper bags when doing so, she said.

Swearengen noted that plastic bags can hang on the handlebars of a bike and that paper bags deteriorate in the rain.

To that, Councilwoman Gerre Currie said local organizations could provide cloth and other types of reusable bags.

“If this is something we are trying to do, the onus is on us to reach outside where we are sitting here and partner with organizations to provide free bags.”

The council is scheduled to take the second of three votes on the plastic bag ordinance Tuesday (today).

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CannaBeat: CBD Sales Surge Sevenfold

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 12:06 PM

CBD flower from The Bold Team, Arkansas’ supplier. - ARKANSAS CANNABIS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
  • Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association
  • CBD flower from The Bold Team, Arkansas’ supplier.

Sales of CBD grew 700 percent over the last 12 months, according to a new report from the Brightfield Group.

The group is a market and consumer intelligence firm for the legal CBD and cannabis industries. It says sales have been pushed largely by national retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger, and the market is set to skyrocket.

  • Jani Moore Photography courtesy of Ounce of Hope

Brightfield’s report says the CBD market is on pace to grow to $23.7 billion through 2023.

“The CBD market has been growing rapidly, but we will see unprecedented growth in 2019,” Brightfield managing director Bethany Gomez said in a statement.

Those national retail chains only got into the CBD market this year. CBD products can now be found in Tennessee-area Walgreens, CVS, and Kroger, though they are (for now) largely offering topical products like creams and lotions. However, the Brightfield report said those chains will dominate the CBD market over the next year, owning as much as 57 percent of it.

Here are some other key highlights from the Brightfield CBD report:

• Although tinctures still dominate the market, driving 25% of sales, they are losing their lead as more mainstream consumer-friendly products surge


• Topicals (17% of market) and skincare and beauty products (8%) have gained tremendous traction as mass retailers have signed on to carry these products first, since they are considered the safest bet under the current regulatory regime.

• Natural food and smoke shop CBD revenues continue to grow and thrive — with increased uptake across the country and some level of saturation now that vendors feel more secure and confident carrying product.

Notably, though the CBD market is no longer dominated by cannabis users, dispensaries and recreational shops have also seen an uptick in CBD-oriented traffic.

• 1% of CBD companies were in the top tier (with sales of $40+ million or being sold in greater than 1000 stores) while 92.9% of companies were in the low tier (with sales of <$1 million or being sold in 0-100 stores)

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Report: Much Hotter Days Ahead for Memphis If No Action on Climate Change

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 1:20 PM

The heat index for Memphis on July 8 was 107 degrees. Shelby Countians will need to get used to that if nothing is done about climate change, according to a new report. - US NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TENNESSEE
  • US National Weather Service Memphis Tennessee
  • The heat index for Memphis on July 8 was 107 degrees. Shelby Countians will need to get used to that if nothing is done about climate change, according to a new report.

Memphis summers could boil above a heat index of 127 degrees for 20 days of the year by the end of this century if nothing is done about climate change, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
  • Union of Concerned Scientists/Facebook

The Washington-D.C.-area group says it ”puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems.” On Tuesday, the group issued dire warnings about the future if the country does not capture heat-trapping emissions, which cause climate change, in a report called “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days”
“The rise in days with extreme heat will change life as we know it nationwide, but with significant regional differences,” said Rachel Licker, senior climate scientist at UCS and report co-author. “For example, in some regions currently unaccustomed to extreme heat— those such as the upper Midwest, Northeast and Northwest — the ability of people and infrastructure to cope with it is woefully inadequate. At the same time, people in states 
already experiencing extreme heat — including in the Southeast, Southern Great Plains, and Southwest—have not seen heat like this.

"By late century, they may have to significantly alter ways of life to deal with the equivalent of up to five months a year with a heat index above — often way above — 105 degrees. We don’t know what people would be able and willing to endure, but such heat could certainly drive large-scale relocation of residents toward cooler regions.”

The report lays out several scenarios for the future — with action on climate change, slow action, and rapid action. Those scenarios are laid out into possibilities for the middle of this century and the end of the century.

Visit the UCS interactive map with all of the data here.
A screenshot of the UCS interactive map, which indicates that if nothing is done about climate change, Shelby County could have 83 days per year with a heat index over 105 degrees. - UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • A screenshot of the UCS interactive map, which indicates that if nothing is done about climate change, Shelby County could have 83 days per year with a heat index over 105 degrees.
Shelby County hasn't had days with a heat index above 127 degrees, according to the study. If nothing is done, the county could see four such days a year by mid-century. By the end of the 21st century, Shelby County is looking at 20 days per year with heat indices of more than 127 degrees.

With bold action on climate change, the USC report says Shelby County would have three days of 127-degree heat each year by midcentury. With that action, the county could cut those 20 days of “off the chart” heat to only four by the end of the century.

Here are the climate-change-related, heat index scenarios for Shelby County, according to the UCS:

Above 90 degrees: 77 days
Above 100 degrees: 19 days
Above 105 degrees: 6 days
Above 127 degrees: 0 days

Mid-century, no change:
Above 90 degrees: 119 days
Above 100 degrees: 64 days
Above 105 degrees: 40 days
Above 127 degrees: 3 days

Late-century, no change:
Above 90 degrees: 121 days
Above 100 degrees: 72 days
Above 105 degrees: 47 days
Above 127 degrees: 4 days

Mid-century, slow change:
Above 90 degrees: 113 days
Above 100 degrees: 64 days
Above 105 degrees: 40 days
Above 127 degrees: 3 days

Late-century, slow change:
Above 90 degrees: 121 days
Above 100 degrees: 72 days
Above 105 degrees: 47 days
Above 127 degrees: 4 days

Into the future with rapid change:
Above 90 degrees: 115 days
Above 100 degrees: 65 days
Above 105 degrees: 40 days
Above 127 degrees: 3 days

Here are some future scenarios the group outlined for Tennessee:

• Historically, there have been 51 days per year on average with a heat index above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the worker safety threshold. This would increase to 100 days per year on average by midcentury and 128 by the century’s end.

• Historically, there have been eight days per year on average with a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This would increase to 53 days per year on average by midcentury and 84 by the century’s end.

Of the cities with a population of 50,000 or more in the state, Clarksville, Jackson and Memphis would experience the highest frequency of these days. Limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would cap the frequency of such days at an average of 40 per year.
• By the end of the century, an estimated 6.1 million people would be exposed to a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the equivalent of two months or more per year. By limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, more than 4.9 million of those residents would avoid such days of extreme conditions.

• Historically, there has been an average of two days per year with a heat index above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This would increase to 32 days per year on average by midcentury and 63 by the century’s end. Limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would cap the frequency of such days at an average of 21 per year.

• By the end of the century, an estimated 6.3 million people would be exposed to a heat index above 105 degrees Fahrenheit for the equivalent of a month or more per year. By limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, nearly 4.6 million of those residents would avoid such days of extreme conditions.

• Historically, the state as a whole has experienced zero “off-the-charts” heat days in an average year. This would increase to two days per year on average by midcentury and 11 by the end of the century. Limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius could cap the frequency of such days at an average of one per year.

• By the end of the century, an estimated 5 million people would endure “off-the-charts” heat days for the equivalent of a week or more per year.

“Our analysis shows a hotter future that’s hard to imagine today,” said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at UCS and co-author of the report. “Nearly everywhere, people will experience more days of dangerous heat even in the next few decades.

“By the end of the century, with no action to reduce global emissions, parts of Florida and Texas would experience the equivalent of at least five months per year on average when the ‘feels like’ temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with most of these days even surpassing 105 degrees.”

To review the data for yourself, visit the UCS report website.

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City Council Could Spend $15K on Memphis 3.0 Consultant

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 12:10 PM


The Memphis City Council could pay a consultant $15,000 to assess the financial impact of the Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive plan.

A council committee voted 4-1 on Tuesday morning in favor of the move, recommending its approval to the full council.

Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson, who is proposing the study, said she believes Memphis 3.0 is a good plan, but that residents don’t fully understand it. Johnson said she’s received a number of phone calls from constituents who want to know exactly how Memphis 3.0 would affect their neighborhood, as well as what the financial impact will be on underserved communities, especially ones of color.

The $15,000 would come from the city's legislative division budget.

Councilwoman Patrice Robinson said she supports the study: “It wouldn’t do any hurt or harm for council to have another eye, another look, and a further explanation.”

Robinson said the consultant will review the strengths and weaknesses of the plan, and determine any opportunities or threats that could arise because of it.

Councilman Worth Morgan abstained from voting, saying that the financial impact of the plan will likely be hard to determine. He also added that he doesn’t want to support hiring a consultant until the council knows exactly what additional information the consultant will produce.

Morgan said $15,000 isn’t a “great amount for a study,” but he is unsure if “the value of the information will match the $15,000 price tag.”

Councilman Sherman Greer cast the only no vote, saying that Memphis 3.0 “isn’t the Bible,” and that it can be amended even after the council approves it. He also questioned what information the consultant would reveal that the council doesn’t already know.

The full council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at its meeting Tuesday (today) at 3:30 p.m. If approved, the selected consultant will have until September 17th to present its findings. That would mean the third and final vote on the ordinance that would implement the plan would be pushed back until mid-September as well.

Carnita Atwater protests the Memphis 3.0 plan - MAYA SMITH
  • Maya Smith
  • Carnita Atwater protests the Memphis 3.0 plan

The council was slated to take the second vote on the ordinance Tuesday, but that vote could be delayed as well.

In May, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland signed an executive order to ensure Memphis 3.0 would guide all city decisions on the administrative side excluding land use. The council still has to approve the plan before it can impact land use.

The council has delayed the vote on Memphis 3.0 several times since March. The council first delayed the vote on the city’s comprehensive plan after a group of residents from the New Chicago area voiced opposition to the plan, citing a lack of inclusion.

Since then, delays have been attributed to the council needing more information about the plan and its implications. The council took the first of three votes on the ordinance at its July 2nd meeting.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

MEMernet: #SunsOutBunsOut

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 3:04 PM

  • Facebook

If you were on social media at all this weekend, you probably saw this man.

The post went sort of Memphis-viral, appearing at times on Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, NextDoor.

The original post reads:

"As I walked Arlo this morning in my lovely Central Gardens neighborhood, this is what I saw. I even waved and said good morning, thinking he’d scurry inside. Nope! He smiled and waved back while watering the porch flowers, with no qualms at all!


(Warning: white buns ahead)


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U of M President Says School Will Pay $15 Per Hour in Two Years

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 3:03 PM


A week after the most recent conversation about living wages at the University of Memphis heated up, U of M president David Rudd sent a letter to faculty saying that his commitment to providing all employees with a living wage “remains firm.”

Last week Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris vetoed a Shelby County Commission decision to allocate $1 million for the U of M’s Michael Rose Natatorium because of the school’s failure to pay living wages to some employees.

Harris said then that he won’t support the funding until the university presents a plan to pay livable wages to all employees.

Rudd said that the mayor’s proposal raised “serious ethical concerns” and that the university will forgo the county’s funding offer for the project. Rudd also said last week that the university is in the process of implementing a plan to raise hourly wages to $15 an hour over the next two years.

“We have a definitive plan,” Rudd said. “We’ll be at $15/hour in two years. And in a sustainable manner.”

In a Monday letter to the university’s faculty and staff, Rudd said over the past four years the university has implemented three “historic increases in our minimum wage from $9.20 to $10.10, $10.60 two years ago, and $11.11 this fiscal year.”

A living wage extends beyond hourly pay and also should account for employee benefits packages, Rudd said. When the new minimum wage of $11.11 goes into place this year, Rudd said, with benefits factored in, wages equal about $16.80 an hour.

University of Memphis President David M. Rudd
  • University of Memphis President David M. Rudd

The university’s approach to increasing minimum wage is “thoughtful and methodical,” Rudd wrote, touting some of the school’s financial accomplishments, such as implementing four consecutive years of pay increases and keeping tuition the lowest of the state’s public institutions over the past five years.

“Over the past few years, I have repeatedly expressed my support for a living wage,” Rudd wrote. “We’re the only public university in the state with three significant increases in our hourly wage over the past four years. As I’ve also said before, we’re committed to doing it because it’s the right thing.”

Rudd said he believes the university will be able to pay a livable wage to all employees in two years, but in a “manner that is financially responsible and sustainable.”

He did not mention the amount of the proposed livable wage.

“We’ve made significant progress the past two years and I believe we can achieve our goal in two years,” Rudd said. “I will not, however, sacrifice financial discipline and the success of our university for political expediency.”

What are other universities here paying?

As of July 1st, the lowest-paid employees at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center will earn $15 an hour, according to the university. This is the highest in the area. 

Southwest Tennessee Community College established a living wage plan in 2017 and raised every employee’s pay to at least $10.76 an hour. Since then, the minimum wage has increased to $12.24 an hour. The college said 31 employees currently earn this amount.

Christian Brothers University officials did not disclose its minimum hourly wage, but said the university is committed to a “just and living wage for employees” and that income equality is one of university president John Shannon’s top priorities during his first 100 days in his new role as president.

At Rhodes College, the minimum hourly wage is $12 an hour, but president of the college, Marjorie Hass, said last week in a letter to faculty and staff that the college is in the second year of a multi-year plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Waterlogged River Cities Brace for Barry's Downpour

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 1:18 PM

  • National Weather Service

Weather Channel meteorologists now predict rains and wind from Tropical Storm Barry could hit Memphis on Monday.

Barry is now expected to make landfall at the Louisiana coast early Saturday morning. By that time, the storm will likely fall into the high-end tropical storm or low-end hurricane classification, according to The Weather Channel.

“Heavy winds will produce power outages, possible structural damage, and possible tornadoes in the outer bands of the storm,” reads a Friday afternoon notice from The Weather Channel.

The storm will circle New Orleans later that day and move north to hover in northern Louisiana Sunday afternoon.

It will then move through Arkansas and western Tennessee on Monday, according to the channel. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Memphis said 3 to 7 inches of rain could fall between Saturday and Tuesday. Winds of up to 20 to 35 mph are possible, according to the NWS. Isolated tornadoes are also possible on Sunday and Monday. But the main threat to the area, the NWS said, is from rainfall and flooding.

See the latest forecast from Barry here:

Mayors of cities up and down the Mississippi River are preparing for the storm.

The tropical storm threatening the Mississippi River Valley could potentially drop feet of rain on an already flooded region, aggravating flooded conditions by merging existing saturated areas into a large zone of inundation.

“As my friend Mayor Brent Walker of Alton, Illinois, likes to say, we’re getting pretty good at fighting floods since we’re having to do it so often,” Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Brooms said in a statement. “In 2016, we experienced a 1,000-year rain event here in Baton Rouge that produced a backwater flood situation.

“This time, with the Mississippi River in an extended period of major flooding, we’re looking at the potential of both a back-water and main-stem flood coming together. But we’ve learned from the past and we are better prepared now.”

Along the coast, mayors prepared for high winds, surge, and are depending on new infrastructure built after Katrina.
“Our situation along the Gulf near the mouth of the Mississippi River has been improved markedly since 2005,” said Gretna, Louisiana, Mayor Belinda Constant. “We’re banking on those improvements now. What I’m concerned about are the debilitating effects of compounding events on our infrastructure; our spillway has been opened now for the longest time since it was built.

“The 2017 and 2018 hurricane seasons followed by the 2019 prolonged flood all take a toll. We will need to carefully examine impacts and take stock once this storm passes.”

In northern Louisiana, waterlogged cities are bracing for another in what have been back-to-back events.

“I’ve never seen water inundate my city like this,” said Vidalia, Louisiana, Mayor Buz Craft. “Over eight months of flooding is causing seepage at levels we haven’t experienced before. We’re doing all we can to move water out and allow areas to dry. We’ve brought in new partners to help us. But this storm may set us back if it rains enough.”

Long-standing waters in Greenville, Mississippi, are already causing damage assessments to grow and grow there, said Mayor Errick Simmons.
“A torrential rain event is not what the doctor ordered at this point,” Simmons said. “The Mississippi River Delta tends to have its own economic challenges without the ongoing disasters.

“Resilience is going to be our driving policy priority for quite some time after this season is behind us.”

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CannaBeat: Group Files Proposals for Recreational Cannabis in Arkansas

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 11:52 AM


This week, a group submitted plans for two ballot initiatives in Arkansas to allow recreational use of cannabis and to expunge the records of those with cannabis-related convictions.

The Drug Policy Education Group’s (DPEG) Arkansas Adult Use Cannabis Amendment would allow possession of the drug by those 21 and older for personal use (with the understanding that cannabis is still illegal under federal law).

If approved, the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Division would issue licenses to companies to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis and would make the rules governing the system and would have 120 days to do it all. If approved, recreational cannabis could be available in Arkansas by December 4th, 2020.

Licenses would be given to at least one dispensary in each Arkansas county and at  least 30 in every Congressional district. Cannabis farming licenses would be given to one company per 250,000 state residents. Dispensaries and farms would have to be at least 1,000 feet from a pre-existing school or church.

State sales taxes could be as high as 10 percent on retail sales of cannabis flower, cannabis concentrate, and edible products containing cannabis.

Taxes would go first to fund the state's recreational cannabis regulatory system. The rest would be divvied up like so: 60 percent to fund and operate public pre-kindergarten and after school programs and 40 percent to fund the operations of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

CBD flower from The Bold Team, Arkansas’ supplier. - ARKANSAS CANNABIS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
  • Arkansas Cannabis Industry Association
  • CBD flower from The Bold Team, Arkansas’ supplier.

Cities and counties could prohibit commercial cannabis sales by a majority vote of their governing bodies.

Under the proposal, adult Arkansans could possess up to four ounces of cannabis flower, two ounces of cannabis concentrate, and edible products containing cannabis with a tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) content of 200 mg or less. They could also grow up to six cannabis seedlings and six cannabis flowering plants for personal use on residential property owned by the adult or with the written permission of the property owner.


The group’s second proposal is called the Arkansas Marijuana Expungement Amendment. It would petition courts to release or reduce sentences and expunge the records of those convicted of cannabis offenses in the state.

Those convictions include cannabis possession, cultivation, manufacture, distribution, or sale of less than 16 ounces of cannabis or six or fewer mature cannabis plants or cannabis paraphernalia.

Read the proposals in full here.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Detained Journalist to be Released on Bond

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2019 at 12:34 PM

  • Memphis Notacias
  • Manuel Duran

The Memphis journalist who was arrested during an immigration protest last year, and later taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being released on bond, according to a Thursday post on the “Free Manuel Duran” Facebook page.

“ICE has set a bond for Manuel and we paid it,” the post reads. “We are in [sic] our way to Alabama to bring him back home.”

Manuel was the owner of and reporter for Memphis Noticias, a local Spanish-language newspaper, before his detainment. The journalist was arrested last spring while live-streaming an immigration protest Downtown.

The charges were dropped and the case was dismissed, but Duran was not released from the Shelby County Jail. ICE officials picked up Duran from the jail and he was transported to the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana.

Duran arrested during a protest. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Duran arrested during a protest.

After 15 months in various detention centers, most recently in the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered that his case be reopened earlier this month, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), one of the groups who’ve provided Duran with legal assistance.

Reopening the case sends it back to a federal immigration judge to have his asylum claim heard.

The SPLC did not immediately respond to the Flyer's request for comment. 

This comes as the conversation on immigration issues and action against ICE raids and migrant detention centers heat up around the country.

Memphis is one of more than 200 cities slated to hold a candlelight vigil Friday night to shine a light on the issue of immigration detention centers.

Organizers of the Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Concentration Camps are partnering with organizations across the country and worldwide to protest migrant conditions that organizers call inhumane.

Mid-South immigration Advocates (MIA), Mismo Sol 901, the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and other advocacy groups are hosting the Friday’s vigil here. It will take place at the Memphis immigration Court on Monroe from 7:00-9:00 p.m.

So far more than 450 people have indicated they are interested or will attend the demonstration on the event’s Facebook page.

Across the country, at least one city in every state has an event planned. Around the world, participants as far away as the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, and Japan will join in.

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