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1. Tigers Alumni Game Draws 2 Dozen Former Players -

The second annual Blue-Gray University of Memphis alumni basketball game brought in more than two dozen former Tigers at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.

The Gray Team (older players) won the game 125-119. Former players Jeremy Hunt and Willie Kemp organized the game. A portion of the proceeds were to be distributed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.

2. Tigers Alumni Game Draws 2 Dozen Former Players -

The second annual Blue-Gray University of Memphis alumni basketball game brought in more than two dozen former Tigers for a game on Saturday, June 25, at Elma Roane Fieldhouse.

The Gray Team (older players) won the game 125-119. Former players Jeremy Hunt and Willie Kemp organized the game. A portion of the proceeds were to be distributed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.

3. Second Annual TigerAlumni Game June 25 -

Former University of Memphis Tiger players Willie Kemp and Jeremy Hunt are hosting the second annual Blue vs. Gray Memphis Tigers Alumni Game, which will feature 26 former players at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.

4. Second Annual Tigers Alumni Game Saturday -

Former University of Memphis Tiger players Willie Kemp and Jeremy Hunt are hosting the second annual Blue vs. Gray Memphis Tigers Alumni Game, which will feature 26 former players at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.

5. New Brass -

Just days before Toney Armstrong was off the city payroll, his successor as interim director of the Memphis Police Department, Michael Rallings, was getting used to the attention and ring kissing that comes with being the city’s top cop.

6. Police Review Board With Teeth Hits Familiar Wall -

When Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton created the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board in 1994, it was under pressure from critics who said police couldn’t objectively discipline their own.

But Herenton, who had his own doubts about police objectivity, also believed the board was a hollow gesture. Its powers to investigate allegations of police misconduct would always be limited by civil service procedures, due process safeguards and the legal process in general.

7. Tigers Alumni Game a Chance for Fans to Relive Fond Memories -

It’s not the Final Four. In fact, it’s not even a November nonconference game against some directional school.

It’s an alumni game being played at the little campus gym at the University of Memphis. And it’s sold out.

8. Former Memphis Tigers Plan Alumni Basketball Game -

Look back to look ahead. That’s what former University of Memphis basketball players Jeremy Hunt and Willie Kemp are trying to do with the first alumni game, scheduled for Saturday, June 27, at 6 p.m. at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, 495 Zach Curlin St.

9. Wharton Eyes City Hall Shake-Up -

Facing specific criticism from political challengers that his administration is disorganized and hasn’t focused on priorities much past initial press conferences, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. acted this week to shake up his office starting at the top.

10. Lowery Named 2015 City Council Chairman -

The longest-serving member of the Memphis City Council will be the 2015 chairman of the 13-member body.

Myron Lowery was elected by the council unanimously and without opposition Tuesday, Nov. 18. He succeeds Jim Strickland in the chairman’s position.

11. Council Looks to Pinpoint Pension Numbers -

The Tuesday, March 4, discussion Memphis City Council members had with Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard and consultants from four actuarial firms centered on the city’s pension liability.

12. Roland ReElected At Filing Deadline, Two Countywide Races Set For August -

One of the six Shelby County Commission incumbents seeking re-election this year was effectively elected to a new four-year term in a new district with the noon Thursday, Feb. 20, filing deadline for candidates in the May county primaries.

13. Bad Blood -

December was already going to be a busy month at City Hall for the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

He would be bringing a plan to provide $15 million in city financing for the $180 million Crosstown revitalization project and rolling out its fix to address the Tennessee Comptroller’s vocal concerns about the city’s unfunded pension liability.

14. Conrad, Flinn Pitch Cost-Saving Measures for City -

Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad wants to explore selling city assets, including Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, and using the proceeds to establish a trust fund for early childhood education and other “wrap around” social services.

15. Liberty Bowl Moves Raise Questions About Coliseum -

Memphis City Council members approved $12 million in funding Tuesday, Jan. 8, for the coming design and renovation of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to make it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

16. Heritage Trail Complexity a Concern -

As 2012 comes to an end, the most ambitious plan from City Hall for the revitalization of an inner-city area in 15 years of such projects has hit a critical stage.

The idea of a tax increment financing zone for a large swath of the area south of FedExForum as well as the Downtown area itself into South Memphis is being examined closely by Shelby County Commissioners before they commit county property tax revenues with the “Heritage Trail” zone.

17. Despite Low Turnout, Incumbents See Big Wins -

Memphis voters kept the turnout in last week’s city elections at less than 20 percent. About 18 percent of the city’s 426,580 or so voters showed up for the Thursday, Oct. 6, elections.

Some politicos doubted turnout would move into double digits until the relatively healthy 7.6 percent turnout for early voters made it clear.

18. Wharton, Fullilove & Conrad Re-Elected -- Harris-Ford to Runoff - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. won a full four-year term of office as mayor Thursday, Oct. 6, two years after he claimed the mayor’s office in a special election.

And all 12 of the Memphis City Council members seeking re-election won new four year terms in the city election cycle, marking the largest return of incumbents to the 13-member council in the 43-year history of the mayor-council form of government.

19. Early Voting Kicks Off Friday in City -

Early voting begins Friday, Sept. 16, in advance of the Oct. 6 city of Memphis Election Day. Voters across the city can cast early ballots in the races for Memphis mayor, City Council, City Court clerk and City Court judges at 16 locations through Oct. 1.

20. Budget Issues Resurface at City Council -

The Memphis City Council this week ventured back into the just closed budget season via a city charter amendment for the November 2012 ballot.

A referendum ordinance by council member Kemp Conrad and council chairman Myron Lowery would require the city administration to submit a five-year operating budget plan to the council along with a five- to 10-year capital improvements budget plan and consolidate the two budgets into one presentation.

21. Wharton Preps for 2011 Mayoral Campaign -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. was still fielding national media flood inquiries with a mantra of “Memphis is open for business” as he attended the latest of the early campaign fundraisers this week for his re-election effort.

22. Qualifying Period for City Races Opens -

Here come the city elections. Monday is the first day candidates in the Oct. 6 Memphis elections can begin picking up and filing qualifying petitions for mayor, all 13 seats on the Memphis City Council, City Court clerk and the three divisions of City Court.

23. Post-Election, Political Leaders Talk Turnout -

Sometime this week, the Shelby County Election Commission will meet to certify the results of the Aug. 5 elections.

There may or may not be a challenge of those election results in Chancery Court by the Shelby County Democratic Party and several losing candidates. But discussion about why Democrats fared so poorly and Republicans did so well in the county general elections will probably endure beyond questions about voting irregularities.

24. City Mulls Hiking Sanitation Fees -

Although there is no city property tax hike tied to the city budget the Memphis City Council will vote on next week, a $4.50 increase in the city solid waste fee is on the table as the council prepares for the new fiscal year July 1.

25. Halbert Mulls Run for City Mayor -

Another potential mayoral candidate is considering stepping into the fray.

With the release of a brief statement Wednesday afternoon, Wanda Halbert floated her interest in October’s special election to choose someone to fill the rest of Willie Herenton’s mayoral term, which ends in 2011.

26. Halbert Mulls Run for City Mayor -

Another potential mayoral candidate is considering stepping into the fray.

With the release of a brief statement Wednesday afternoon, Wanda Halbert floated her interest in October’s special election to choose someone to fill the rest of Willie Herenton’s mayoral term, which ends in 2011.

27. Election Commission to Consider Mayoral Deadline -

The Shelby County Election Commission today is setting the stage for the next step in the coming special election for Memphis mayor.

The commission will meet at 4:30 p.m. to consider setting a deadline for candidates to file and a date for the election itself sometime in late October. In setting the dates, the commission would abide by terms of the Memphis Charter. The charter calls for a special election three months after a vacancy in the mayor’s office if there is no regularly scheduled election within six months of the date the office becomes vacant.

28. City Council Declares Mayoral Vacancy At End Of July -

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday on a 7-6 vote a resolution declaring the mayor’s office vacant as of July 31.

The vote came after a debate in which council members questioned each other’s motives, Mayor Willie Herenton’s word and several legal opinions.

29. UPDATE: Council Approves Mayoral Vacancy Effective July 31 -

The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday on a 7-6 vote a resolution declaring the mayor’s office vacant as of July 31.

The vote came after a debate in which council members questioned each other’s motives, Mayor Willie Herenton’s word and several legal opinions.

30. UPDATE: Council Goes Long to Approve $600 Million Budget -

The Memphis City Council late Tuesday approved a city operating budget of just over $600 milliion after cutting nearly $17 million from the budget proposed in April by Mayor Willie Herenton.

The council also set a property tax rate of $3.19 for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. Some confusion about the new tax rate remained Wednesday morning among council members. At least one council member contacted by The Daily News immediately after the council session said it was a $3.25 tax rate. Council Chairman Myron Lowery told The Daily News Wednesday afternoon, the rate is $3.19.

The state adjusted certified rate including an allowance for appeals of property reappraisals is $3.19. The certified adjusted rate represents the tax rate that will produce the same amount of revenue the city now gets from the $3.25 rate after the recent property reappraisal process.

“This is democracy in action. In the end it works,” said Council chairman Myron Lowery at the end of the eight hour council session which followed seven hours of committee meetings at City Hall.

Lowery’s verdict, however, contrasted sharply with other council members on both sides of a roiling debate about where to make budget cuts.

Most of the $16 million in cuts were made by following recommendations made by the council’s budget committee chaired by Wanda Halbert. But the votes by the full council were close and came with lots of debate instead of a single vote on a package of budget committee recommendations.

Halbert said she was “deeply saddened we have spent so much of the past few weeks coming to City Hall every single day discussing this budget line by line.”

“Some of you weren’t even here,” she continued. “I’m tired. I’m behind on a lot of things.”

The council left intact three percent pay raises for city employees that follow the five percent raise city employees got during the current fiscal year after two prior years with no pay raises.

Some on the council fought hard to either eliminate any pay raises or cut the size of the pay raises citing the current national economic recession.

“Maybe some of us live in a world where we believe at the end of the day it will all work out just fine,” said Council member Harold Collins. “But it is unfortunate we have others who believe, ‘I’ve got to get mine and get it now.’”

Council member Jim Strickland argued that savings the council has achieved through moving some city funding obligations to Shelby County government have simply been used for more city spending.

“We’ve cut schools and spent it,” he said. “We cut the health department and spent it. The public is aware of this. And they’re not receiving relief from double taxation.”

Still to be debated and determined by the council is a proposed special tax bill that could be issued as early as August that would reflect the amount the council has been ordered to pay the city school system by Chancellor Kenny Armstrong. Armstrong ruled against the city in a city school system lawsuit challenging the council’s decision to cut funding to the school system in the current fiscal year. He ordered the city to pay $57 million to the city school system. The ruling is being appealed by the city and any payment is on hold pending the outcome of an appeal that is expected to go from the state appeals court to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

A special tax bill would not be for the full $57 million under the general framework of a plan being debated by the council. Collins proposed designating $16 million from the city’s $92 million fund balance or reserve fund.

“We don’t have a money tree here in the back of city hall and can’t afford to raise taxes indefinitely,” Council member Kemp Conrad said. “This hasn’t been pleasant but it’s what we signed up for. We have to make tough decisions.”

The council voted to contribute $125,000 in city funding for the transition of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) to county government control. In budget committee, the council voted to cut the entire $700,000 line item for the department. The committee action prompted an agreement between Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. to move the center to the health department.

The council also included funding in the budget for a set of red light cameras to photograph traffic scofflaws at key city traffic intersections. The cost for the first year of the system would be $480,000, a cost proponents of the system, including Lowery, have said would be paid for with revenues from ticket fines.

...

31. Disputes Continue Over MSARC Storm -

Memphis city attorney Elbert Jefferson called it “a perfect storm.”

That was how he described the controversy that surrounds the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center when he met last month with its employees.

32. Herenton Defends Damage Control Effort At Rape Crisis Center -

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton told City Council members Tuesday afternoon that the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) will remain a part of city government and will not be transferred to Shelby County government as long as he is mayor.

In a two hour council executive session, Herenton responded in depth for the first time to questions about problems at the center.

Council member Jim Strickland also announced that he will propose the city transfer the agency to county government despite Herenton’s stand on the matter.

Strickland and other council members repeatedly asked Herenton how the center wound up with a staffing problem. And Herenton repeatedly responded that he wasn’t going to talk in any specific terms about problems running the center.

“I don’t know where this is all going. … What’s behind is behind me. I’m moving forward,” Herenton said. “The only useful purpose in me having a dialogue with you about what took place three months ago is that if mistakes were made it’s for the administration to insure that they are not made in the future. … The past allows you to grow from whatever the challenges were and make sure you don’t repeat them again.”

But later, Herenton said the center had staffing problems because of what he described as “hidden agendas” among those who worked at the center as well as personality conflicts.

He was also critical of some council members as well as what he termed “pressure groups” who have expressed concern about the city’s methods and a delay in handling the problems. He said both had politicized the problem based on two specific instances where rape victims were told to come back later for examinations.

“It got politicized. It got personalized. It was media driven,” Herenton said. “No, I wasn’t as upset about that particular incident and it doesn’t mean I’m insensitive to rape victims. I’m sensitive to all victims of crime.”

He also wondered aloud about why council members weren’t as concerned about two drownings of children at city pools last summer or the recent child abuse death of an infant. Several council members broke in to protest that they had shown concern and questioned whether Herenton was accusing them of being racist.

“When you come up, or any of you, and you’ve got a hue and cry because there’s some well connected people in the community got your hot button – got your attention – and you think I’m going to be moved by that? Hell no,” he added.

Strickland said “that was absolutely 100 percent not true.”

Herenton said he wasn’t talking about Strickland but fellow council member Kemp Conrad.

“Crime is going to happen,” Conrad replied. “The difference here is we had crime victims who came to a city service to be served and they weren’t served. We dropped the ball.”

“I’ve already said that,” Herenton countered. “So what do you want me to do about it? We dropped the ball. We’re trying to make sure we bounce the ball right and get it in the hoop next time.”

Conrad said after the meeting that he wasn't on the council during the drowning incidents. And he said statistics show most of the victims seen by MSARC are African-American.

Herenton’s initial response included moving supervision of the center to the City Attorney’s office with the Division of Public Service & Neighborhoods retaining day to day control. He also announced a partnership with the Child Advocacy Center that will send child rape and assault victims to the Midtown center for examination and immediate counseling by trained professionals from Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center. Herenton said Tuesday he disagrees with critics who argue that having different sites for different victims to go to is not the best approach.

“I don’t have to explain to people the why of this and why of that,” Herenton said when asked why he believes MSARC should remain a city agency when the city is in the process of turning over full funding of the health department to Shelby County government. “I have made decisions that I think are in the best interest of this organization.”

He also said he has not decided whether Kenneth Moody will remain director of the Public Services & Neighborhoods division or what will happen to Yalanda McFadgon, the deputy director with specific oversight responsibilities for the center.

“You’ll know when I make it,” he said.

Read more in Thursday’s edition of The Daily News.

...

33. UPDATE: Herenton Defends Handling Of Rape Crisis Center -  

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton told City Council members Tuesday afternoon that the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) will remain a part of city government and will not be transferred to Shelby County government as long as he is mayor.

In a two hour council executive session, Herenton responded in depth for the first time to questions about problems at the center.

Council member Jim Strickland also announced that he will propose the city transfer the agency to county government despite Herenton’s stand on the matter.

Strickland and other council members repeatedly asked Herenton how the center wound up with a staffing problem. And Herenton repeatedly responded that he wasn’t going to talk in any specific terms about problems running the center.

“I don’t know where this is all going. … What’s behind is behind me. I’m moving forward,” Herenton said. “The only useful purpose in me having a dialogue with you about what took place three months ago is that if mistakes were made it’s for the administration to insure that they are not made in the future. … The past allows you to grow from whatever the challenges were and make sure you don’t repeat them again.”

But later, Herenton said the center had staffing problems because of what he described as “hidden agendas” among those who worked at the center as well as personality conflicts.

He was also critical of some council members as well as what he termed “pressure groups” who have expressed concern about the city’s methods and a delay in handling the problems. He said both had politicized the problem based on two specific instances where rape victims were told to come back later for examinations.

“It got politicized. It got personalized. It was media driven,” Herenton said. “No, I wasn’t as upset about that particular incident and it doesn’t mean I’m insensitive to rape victims. I’m sensitive to all victims of crime.”

He also wondered aloud about why council members weren’t as concerned about two drownings of children at city pools last summer or the recent child abuse death of an infant. Several council members broke in to protest that they had shown concern and questioned whether Herenton was accusing them of being racist.

“When you come up, or any of you, and you’ve got a hue and cry because there’s some well connected people in the community got your hot button – got your attention – and you think I’m going to be moved by that? Hell no,” he added.

Strickland said “that was absolutely 100 percent not true.”

Herenton said he wasn’t talking about Strickland but fellow council member Kemp Conrad.

“Crime is going to happen,” Conrad replied. “The difference here is we had crime victims who came to a city service to be served and they weren’t served. We dropped the ball.”

“I’ve already said that,” Herenton countered. “So what do you want me to do about it? We dropped the ball. We’re trying to make sure we bounce the ball right and get it in the hoop next time.”

Conrad said after the meeting that he wasn't on the council during the drowning incidents. And he said statistics show most of the victims seen by MSARC are African-American.

Herenton’s initial response included moving supervision of the center to the City Attorney’s office with the Division of Public Service & Neighborhoods retaining day to day control. He also announced a partnership with the Child Advocacy Center that will send child rape and assault victims to the Midtown center for examination and immediate counseling by trained professionals from Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center. Herenton said Tuesday he disagrees with critics who argue that having different sites for different victims to go to is not the best approach.

“I don’t have to explain to people the why of this and why of that,” Herenton said when asked why he believes MSARC should remain a city agency when the city is in the process of turning over full funding of the health department to Shelby County government. “I have made decisions that I think are in the best interest of this organization.”

He also said he has not decided whether Kenneth Moody will remain director of the Public Services & Neighborhoods division or what will happen to Yalanda McFadgon, the deputy director with specific oversight responsibilities for the center.

“You’ll know when I make it,” he said.

Read more in Thursday’s edition of The Daily News.

...

34. Herenton Reprimands Boone Over City Car -

Memphis General Services Director Estrice Boone has been reprimanded by Mayor Willie Herenton for his choice of a city vehicle.

35. Herenton Reprimands Division Director Over City Car -

Memphis General Services Director Estrice Boone has been reprimanded by Mayor Willie Herenton for his choice of a city vehicle.

36. Council Wrenched by School Funding -

Around this time last year, Memphis City Council members axed $66 million from the city school system’s 2008-2009 budget request.

Council members hoped the unprecedented move would start to free the body from an expense they’ve long viewed as a financial albatross.

Yet as the first full week of city budget hearings drew to a close this week, it was clear council members continue wrestling with how to shape this year’s city budget because of Memphis City Schools’ unresolved situation.

Last year the big question was how much to cut. This year the question is how much to put back into the budget.

Addition and subtraction

That question does not refer to the council restoring its funding to MCS.

Instead, council members want to be prepared to absorb the financial blow if they lose a related court appeal.

Shelby County Chancellor Kenny Armstrong ruled earlier this year the council needs to give the school district $57 million it should have received for the 2008-2009 school year.

The city doesn’t have to pay that money unless it loses its appeal. Dr. Timothy Webb, the state commissioner of education, sent a letter to MCS general counsel Dorsey Hopson Thursday that read: "The Department fully expects MCS to prevail in the City's appeal of the Chancellor's decision."

Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton recently presented a budget plan for the coming fiscal year that included no financial contingency for returning the money.

The school funding issue is such a sticky legal and financial morass that it’s taken council members several days of lengthy discussions even to get an idea of how large a shock absorber they should build into the budget.

“The budget presented by the administration is truly not balanced and the City Council must now finish making the hard decisions that are required to prevent a massive tax increase of up to $57 million,” reads a resolution councilman Kemp Conrad brought to the council’s Monday night budget hearing.

Icky and sticky

Armstrong’s order was clear about the $57 million due to MCS for last year. That replenished amount also would conceivably be the new baseline for the 2009-2010 school year.

In the worst-case scenario, it would appear as much as $114 million would have to be paid to MCS for last year and the coming school year, although virtually no council members expect the expense to get that large.

“We may cut expenses and still have to raise taxes,” said councilman Shea Flinn. “We might not be able to cut our way out of this.”

Earlier this week, the council asked the city administration for new versions of the city operating budget, with varying levels of cuts to accommodate as much as $57 million. Then the council’s budget committee scrapped its schedule for Wednesday night’s budget hearing to grapple exclusively with the still-unresolved MCS funding and budget questions.

During more than two hours of discussion, council members warmed to the possibility of sending out two property tax bills this year. One would be the usual tax bill, and the smaller one would raise money for MCS.

City finance director Roland McElrath is to report back to the council on the cost of issuing a second tax bill. No date is set for his report.

Tough choices

Meanwhile, council members will continue combing through the city’s proposed operating budget, studying one city division after another to look for savings.

“As grueling as it may sound, we need to look at every division’s budget,” said council member Wanda Halbert.

Several council members said the body needs to do what families are being forced to do because of the economy: make tough choices about what they can do without.

“In my mind, we either cut expenses in the budget or we raise taxes on the citizens of Memphis,” said council member Jim Strickland. “To me, that’s an easy choice. We need to slug it out and go through every single division’s budget.”

...

37. Fairgrounds Discussion Becomes More Ambiguous -

For two hours this week the lights were dimmed in the theater of the Children’s Museum of Memphis and Memphis City Council members got a review of plans for the Mid-South Fairgrounds renovation.

When the house lights came up and the PowerPoint presentation went dark, many concluded the ambitious Herenton administration plan is “back to square one,” to quote several council members.

38. Officials: Toppled PILOT Rules Should Help Lure Jobs -

The Memphis City Council has signed off on changes to the system of tax breaks used to recruit new businesses and encourage business expansion in Shelby County.

The unanimous 13-0 council vote this week bookends a unanimous vote by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners earlier this month.

39. Archived Article: Standout - City view Embracing Memphis By MARY DANDO The Daily News The future of Memphis is here and it looks a lot like Anne McGrew Conrad. Conrad is an attorney with Young and Perl. Specializing in public and private sector labor and employment law, Conrad ...