A Modest Proposal

To the Editor:

Shelby Farms is the largest urban park in America. The naming rights to it are probably worth $300 million for a 20-year deal.

One reason NASCAR is so successful revenue-wise is the corporate naming rights marketed on the cars. Why couldn't a deal with exclusive rights be struck to have one major sponsor on each county vehicle -- including sheriff's department squad cars. Some scoff at futurist ideas like this, but I haven't seen anybody else come up with ways to lower or reduce the Shelby County property-tax rate.

FedEx paid the Washington Redskins $227 million for the naming rights to their stadium over the next 20 years. They made a similar, though less expensive, deal with the Grizzlies. The person who handles those agreements for FedEx should be named to this special task force as chairman, since they would have the expertise to make the above ideas actually happen.

Property taxes have put our seniors at risk, because the largest asset they have -- their home -- is at risk. They have to choose between food and medicine purchases or paying their share of the additional burden through higher property taxes. The folks who live from paycheck to paycheck are just about in the same boat.

Less disposable income means less dollars to spend and fuel our local economy when you are forced to pay higher property taxes. The NBA Pursuit Team did a great job in bringing the NBA here. It was no easy task, and I would hope some of the same people would join me in pushing for the creation of a Corporate Naming Rights Task Force.

This is a unique way of retiring the $1 billion-plus debt that the current administration has left us with. We must address this matter head-on, right here and right now. Solving this problem creates a situation where you can fund almost anything really needed by the school system once the county debt is reduced or retired.

Joe Cooper


Warped Take On Tim?

To the Editor:

Ama Codjoe's take on Tim Sampson's lighthearted remark about racial harmony at the Overton Square Arts & Jazz Festival (Letters, May 30th issue) is sadly warped. The writer is confusing issues by categorizing racism as something born of modern reality.

I grew up in Midtown and continue to live here. I was educated in public schools and cherish the diversity to which I have always been exposed. I am also a Christian, which should provide a clear understanding of how I feel about all people. Having said that, one need be only moderately rational to understand why people who have not been exposed to such diversity would be apprehensive, even fearful, of many nonwhites -- not because of some deep-rooted prejudice but quite simply from what they read in the newspaper and see on TV.

It is imperative not to confuse prejudice with the sad effects of modern reality. Over 80 percent of the crime in this city is committed by nonwhites and is mostly black-on-black. How can Ama Codjoe not understand why blacks might be looked upon suspiciously in stores or why some people choose to move to the suburbs or why so many people feel the way they do? I'm not saying it's right, but it is understandable.

I would suggest that Ama work toward helping solve these obvious problems rather than simply be content to mislabel them. It's much more complex than that.

Jerry Sanders


Cardinal Ashcroft?

To the Editor:

Prince George W. and Cardinal Ashcroft, not satisfied with an Office of Homeland Security, have decided to turn the FBI into a domestic intelligence agency. Now we have our own versions of both the SS and Gestapo to keep us safe. Who would have guessed that after defeating the Soviet Union and the Taliban, our leaders would try to recreate them here at home?

By declaring open-ended war, Bush has stifled any critics of his juvenile foreign policy. No patriot would dare point out that by bombing civilians and overthrowing a government to catch a criminal -- a Bush family tradition -- he has inflamed the Muslim world toward holy war. Bush's "carpet-bomb the village in order to liberate it" tactics in Afghanistan drove thousands of Muslim radicals into Pakistan, destabilized the region, and pushed it to the brink of nuclear war.

Bush has turned a national tragedy into a billion-dollar boondoggle for his cronies in the defense industry, a shield against his critics, and a guarantee of reelection. By 2008, Bush and Ashcroft will have turned America into a Christian police state.

That this childish president gets such high approval ratings is astonishing. Does everyone get their news from Rush Limbaugh and The 700 Club? When did bloodlust, bigotry, and contempt for law become American values?

Michael B. Conway


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