City Reporter 

City Reporter

Another Costly Delay

Time and finances are running out for Chinese couple.

By Janel Davis

For Chinese Association representative Jinliang Cai the delay in Monday's trial involving a Chinese couple seeking custody of their daughter from her foster parents was a huge disappointment. Not only because the couple, Jack and Casey He, have been in court proceedings on this matter for four years and haven't been granted visitation with Anna Mae since January 2001, but also because financial assistance from the association cannot continue.

"We wanted this [trial] to be started today. We feel sorry for [the Hes] but also Anna Mae, who is away from her family longer every day," he said. "How long can a person go on with this? We had a fund-raiser for [the couple] last week and raised $1,600, just enough for a psychologist's fee. But that's just one of the fees and bills that has to be paid. It's draining them."

The trial was continued indefinitely after a request by attorney Linda Holmes. Holmes' husband requires immediate surgery and his recovery could take six weeks. Holmes, who has served as legal counsel for Anna Mae's court-appointed representative, could not specify a date for her return.

Chancery Court Judge D.J. Alissandratos granted the continuance against the objections of David Siegel, the Hes' attorney, who suggested either another attorney temporarily replace Holmes or that her position remain unfilled until her return. "We feel that as long as this case is continued it hurts our clients' chances," said Richard Gordon, the Hes' co-counsel.

"It's very unfair because we asked for a continuance when our [second] daughter was very sick, and we were told that if we didn't show up we'd lose the case," said Mr. He.

In response to Holmes' continuance, Siegel requested immediate visitation for the Hes. Last Monday, the couple attended an hourlong psychologist's observation with their daughter and her guardians, Jerry and Louise Baker. According to Mr. He, Anna Mae did not recognize Jack and Casey until prodded with pictures. "She asked us why we didn't come see her," he said. Siegel's visitation request was denied.

In the meantime, Alissandratos instructed both sides to complete pretrial motions and summaries and agree what aspects of the case will be tried during the trial.

After the hearing, Siegel said he plans to file an appeal to the continuance.

Fighting Blight

Lamar Terrace apartments may soon see new life.

By Bianca Phillips

Driving down Crump Blvd., it's hard not to notice the boarded-up Lamar Terrace apartment complex adjacent to the crumbling Baptist Hospital. But according to the Memphis Housing Authority (MHA), some of that stretch of urban blight will soon make way for a new mixed-income housing project.

The 478-unit Lamar Terrace and several other derelict buildings in the area are slated for demolition, and a new housing project that will include a mixture of low-income and market-rate housing will take its place.

"We're going to have to tear Lamar Terrace down. Those units are in terrible condition," said Marty Boscaccy, deputy executive director of real estate and asset management for MHA. "They were built in the 1940s and they're really inefficient. We'd spend a lot more money trying to replace the plumbing and heating systems than we would demolishing."

The only thing holding MHA back is a lack of funding. Since the project will include low-income housing, MHA has applied to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for a HOPE VI grant that funds public-housing revitalization projects. According to Boscaccy, they're still awaiting a response. The project will cost about $25 million to develop.

Boscaccy says the area will expand beyond the Lamar Terrace area as far north as Linden, tying the project into the Medical Center's bio-tech area. He says 350 units will occupy the current apartment site, but the entire project will include about 1,500 new residential units ranging from townhouses and duplexes to multifamily housing.

"We're going to do a combination of development on Lamar Terrace," said Boscaccy. "We've talked to the American Cancer Society about possibly locating a Hope Lodge at that location, and we've talked with Athletic Ministries about developing some ball fields."

Lamar Terrace was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1940 as the third public-housing project in Memphis, after Dixie Homes and Lauderdale Courts. It was built with a decentralized heating system so tenants could move into each block as soon as it was completed. That system is one of many reasons MHA is now planning its demolition. Due to high levels of lead dust, all tenants were moved out of the units last year.

The Blotter

Weird crimes from the police files.

™ He can't be that unknown: On 9/23, a female victim reported being blackmailed. She told officers that four days earlier she had sexual relations with an unknown man. She then said that another unknown man called her, said he had pictures of her having sex with the first unknown man, and told her she needed to give him money or he would send the pictures to her work. "She has giving [sic] the suspect money (3) [times] totaling $28. But the suspect continues to call for money."

™ Not safe anywhere: On 9/23, officers responded to a call on Old Allen Road where the victim said "her ATM/check card and PIN number were stolen from her purse while she was working at 201 Poplar. Multiple ATM withdrawals totalling $2,584 plus fees were taken from several casino location ATMs."

™ Would you like to adopt a puppy too? On 9/18, the Memphis Humane Society on Central reported a theft of: "different brands of donated dog food" (valued at $10), "rawhide chew toys, dog treats" ($100), and one case of toilet paper ($155) stolen from their storage shed.

™ But I'm a member! On 9/17, a female suspect at the Sam's Club on Winchester asked an employee to help her put a 17-inch Hewlett-Packard computer valued at $1,398 into her cart. She then tried to return the item for cash, but store employees asked to see her receipt and she left. Before she left, however, she "did present her Sam's Club membership card with photo ID which verified her identity."

-- compiled by Mary Cashiola

On Target?

Better range could lure NRA contest to city.

By Mary Cashiola

Lieutenant Philip Hemphill with the Mississippi Highway Patrol won his sixth National Police Shooting Championship title last week in Jackson, Mississippi. But in two years, he and 500 or so other competitors could be vying for the $250,000 in prizes (including more than 100 firearms) here in Memphis.

The Memphis City Council is considering a proposal to upgrade the city's firearms training facility to bring the National Rifle Association's police shooting championship to Memphis in September 2005.

"They came for a site inspection back in April and liked the city," said John Oros, executive vice president of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. "They need an expanded shooting range to accommodate all the participants."

Currently, the police department has a 50-point pistol range; under the resolution, the council would support an upgrade to a 100-point pistol range at a price tag of almost $1.8 million. Oros estimates the economic impact to the city would be about $700,000 a year, based upon 500 competitors staying for five nights, plus competition staff and vendors.

"The proposal is for three years, but the contract might be extended to five," said Oros. "If the range is expanded, we're hoping to open it up to other championships such as this."

In a council committee meeting in September, member Barbara Swearengen Holt asked how the police department felt about the upgrade. Memphis police director James Bolden said that an expanded range would be nice but it was not necessary for police training. "As far as what our basic needs are right now," he said, "we feel what we've already done is adequate."

The project was not included in the budget expenditures for the current fiscal year. The City Council is expected to vote on the issue October 7th.

Money Men

Memphians host Cheney fund-raiser.

By John Branston

Vice President Dick Cheney raised $550,000 for the upcoming campaign at a Memphis reception hosted by Allen Morgan and Fred Smith Monday.

"We probably would have raised $1 million if we had been able to get Bush," said Morgan. "But he had already been to Nashville recently so he didn't come."

Morgan, co-founder of the Morgan Keegan securities firm, hosted the fund-raiser at his house near the Memphis Country Club. Co-chairmen along with Smith were bankers Tom Garrott, Ralph Horn, and Jack Moore along with Saks CEO Brad Martin and Morgan's brother Henry of Boyle Investments. About 230 people attended.

"I did this for Bush Sr. in 1987, but I couldn't raise any money for Bush in 2000 because he was the sitting governor of Texas at the time," said Morgan.

Morgan said Cheney stayed about 90 minutes and talked mostly about Iraq and the terrorism threat.

"He made a pretty good case that we need to be tough or we're going to be back in the soup," he said.

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