The Last Word 

Whether it was about the city's budget, merging schools, or even Deep Throat, they said it. And sometimes we even got it on tape.

"To me, if he asks to join, he should have been welcomed in. It's as simple as that. I tell people frequently that I've been black for quite some time, but we have to realize that there are issues that are bigger than our ethnicity, our gender, our region, or our culture."

-- John DeBerry, state representative from Shelby County and a member of the Black Caucus. In September, a white state representative from Knoxville asked to join the group.

"We were one of the first states to have a film incentive. When we created it in 1995, it looked pretty good. Now it looks pretty anemic."

-- David Bennet, chairman of the State Film Production Advisory Committee. Though Hustle & Flow, 40 Shades of Blue, and Walk the Line filmed in Memphis this year, local film industry representatives say that the state needs new tax incentives if they expect more films to be shot here.

"[Thirty-year captains are] not a rank that we need. The rank is given at the tick of a clock upon [reaching] 30 years, not a process in which we test skills. I think you should achieve it by merit."

-- Memphis police director Larry Godwin. In February, 92 senior officers, the so-called 30-year captains, were told to take a demotion or resign. The move cut the police budget by $1.3 million.

"Our county funding, per agreement, is being reduced by $25,000 per year and will go away at some point in the future. Rebuilding an industry isn't something that can be executed on a $175,000 a year budget."

-- Memphis Music Foundation president Rey Flemings. Earlier this year, the Memphis & Shelby County Music Commission split into the nonprofit foundation and a public commission that serves the needs of the current music industry.

"The dog-and-pony show we all produce that typically features a reporter chasing down an elected official does serve a purpose. It demonstrates exactly how determined the official is to avoid the question. Officials who are open and accessible to the media are almost never featured running from a camera."

-- WMC-TV Channel 5 reporter Darrell Phillips.

"We didn't used to be as aggressive with our capital projects. We need to stay within our debt service policy. Why have it if we're not going to follow it?"

-- City Council member Carol Chumney. In November, the council put a hold on all capital projects until the administration could determine how large the city's deficit was.

"We were trying to let it be known that people acting in these films were taking a chance on going to prison. That could have had a very positive effect."

-- Local attorney Larry Parrish, a driving force behind the 1976 case in Memphis against the makers and distributors of Deep Throat. Inside Deep Throat, a documentary released this year on the groundbreaking film, interviewed Parrish.

"Going into merger discussions, I wanted to make sure that none of the teachers would lose their jobs. That was satisfied. Merging schools is in the best interest of the children."

-- Stephanie Gatewood, MCS board member. In April, the district decided to close four elementary schools.



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