Letters to the Editor 

The MCS Debt

Why can't the city pay the Memphis City Schools a $43 million debt? Because of poor management by elected officials. We have corrupt politicians. The "Tennessee Waltz" sting put so many of them in prison, there are too many names to list. They throw away our tax dollars like rice at a wedding!

To pay the debt, Shea Flinn has now suggested a 39 cent property tax assessment that would be "temporary" — for one year only (City Beat, April 21st issue). How many remember former Mayor Bill Morris, elected in 1978, who came out with a $25 wheel tax to help the schools that would only be "temporary"? As we all know, that temporary tax is still here, but it's now $50 and goes into the general fund.

Looking for a job? Excessive retirement pay, health insurance, and security? Then get yourself elected to a Memphis or Shelby County political position! In a democracy, it's your vote that counts. In feudalism, it's your "count" who votes!

Joe Mercer


A Bike City

For years, I've read with admiration the work of John Branston. He is one of the few journalists capable of writing intelligently, informatively, and clearly on the range of complex issues facing Memphis. It was with dismay, then, that I read his City Beat blog post "The Madison Avenue Bike Lanes."

"For better or worse," Branston wrote, "the contemporary economy thrives on cars ... [Memphis] is a car town ... biking and walking are much praised but little practiced. ... I don't see anyone riding a bike and carrying a sack of groceries, but I do see a lot of people ... driving a few blocks to get some place we could walk to in 15 minutes."

Branston's sweeping assessment of Memphis as a car town was neither surprising nor disappointing, as there is little doubt about our city's dependence on automobiles. The troubling piece of Branston's analysis is not his logic but rather his tragic lack of hope for the future of our city.

What if, in the 1950s and 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. had told Americans, "a segregated America — the America you have — is the only America you're ever gonna get"? What if Desmond Tutu had told the people of South Africa in the 1970s, "Capetown is an apartheid town — always has been and always will be"?

If these passionate and courageous leaders had not stood up in difficult times, the world we live in would be a colder, crueler, and less democratic place. The people among us with a vision for the future and the drive to work hard are the architects of a new world, and whether bike lanes are installed on Madison Avenue this summer or not, we must never forget that the world we have today can be a better world tomorrow.

Anthony C. Siracusa


Oil Prices

The increase in gasoline prices reflects the instability in the Middle East and attendant speculation in the oil markets.

The U.S. has to increase domestic oil production, including oil derived from our western U.S. oil shale and Alaskan oil deposits; build new refineries; build nuclear power plants meeting stringent U.S. specifications; increase power production from natural gas and alternative energy sources; promote public transportation; and conserve energy in our homes, businesses, vehicles and in our travels.

Another way to conserve gasoline consumption is to decrease the speed limits to 55 mph or 60 mph on our expressways. Some studies have shown going from 75 mph to 55 mph will reduce gasoline consumption by 33 percent.

We need the Obama administration to provide some leadership and implement a comprehensive energy strategy.

Donald A. Moskowitz

Londonderry, New Hampshire

Litter and Recycling

Step by step, we are making changes in our personal lives to recycle, reduce our waste, and reuse (Letter from the Editor, April 21st issue). Pound by pound, we are growing our own food and buying it locally and eating healthy. Gallon by gallon, we are finding new ways to travel without our cars — using bikes, public transportation, walking. Day by day, we are forging a more innovative path toward cleaner living. The day may finally be coming when we are no longer getting high on the thrill of unbridled consumption. The recipe for a brighter world is clear. Breathe in! Become inspired. Breathe out! Take action. Repeat. Ron Lowe

Nevada City, California

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