Editorial Results (free)
1. County Budget Vote Delayed But Government Continues To Operate
- Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Shelby County government’s fiscal year begins Saturday, July 1, but the county won’t have a new operating budget at least until July 10.
That’s when the Shelby County Commission meets in special session to take up an estimated $13 million in amendments various commissioners are proposing to the budget proposal of county mayor Mark Luttrell.
2. Shelby County’s Certified Property Tax Rate Set at $4.13
- Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Shelby County Commissioners set the certified county property tax rate at $4.13 Monday, May 22, a 24-cent drop from the current tax rate of $4.37.
The resolution approved reflects the state-approved estimate of a tax rate that will produce the same amount of revenue for county government as the current tax rate following the 2017 countywide property reappraisal.
3. County Certified Property Tax Rate Comes In At $4.13
- Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Shelby County Commissioners set the certified county property tax rate at $4.13 Monday, May 22, a 24-cent drop from the current tax rate of $4.37.
The resolution approved reflects the state-approved estimate of a tax rate that will produce the same amount of revenue for county government as the current tax rate once new property values from the 2017 countywide property reappraisal are factored in.
4. Commission Draws Brighter Line on Surplus Use
- Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Shelby County commissioners set the tone for the upcoming county government budget season Monday, April 17, by approving a refinancing of county debt with up to $120 million in bonds over time.
The refinancing draws a line between the administration of Mayor Mark Luttrell and commissioners over the use of county surpluses.
5. First Budget Moves, Minority Business Measures Top Commission Session
- Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Shelby County Commissioners set the tone for the upcoming county government budget season Monday, April 17, with approval of a refinancing of county debt with up to $120 million in bonds over time.
6. First Budget Moves, Minority Business Measures Top Commission Session
- Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Shelby County Commissioners set the tone for the upcoming county government budget season Monday, April 17, with approval of a refinancing of county debt with up to $120 million in bonds over time.
7. Commission Debates Use of $20M Surplus
- Wednesday, April 05, 2017
The Shelby County Commission delayed a vote Monday, April 3, on a $120 million refinancing of the county’s capital bond debt for two weeks.
Commissioners are specifically eyeing a $20 million surplus in the county’s debt service fund – the fund that pays down the county’s debt.
8. County Commission Approves Planned Parenthood Grant
- Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Shelby County Commissioners approved a $115,000 grant Monday, Feb. 6, to Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region on a 7-5 party line vote.
The vote on funding for a free condom distribution program that is a federal grant passed through the state drew a capacity crowd in commission chambers Downtown. Some of the partisans in the audience saw the controversy as a reflection of the country’s post-election political divide.
9. Final Goodbye: Roll Call of Some of Those Who Died in 2016
- Monday, January 02, 2017
Death claimed transcendent political figures in 2016, including Cuba's revolutionary leader and Thailand's longtime king, but also took away royals of a different sort: kings of pop music, from Prince and David Bowie to George Michael.
10. 'Star Wars' Actress and Author Carrie Fisher Dies at 60
- Wednesday, December 28, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Carrie Fisher, a daughter of Hollywood royalty who gained pop-culture fame as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" and turned her struggles with addiction and mental illness into wickedly funny books, a hit film and a one-woman stage show, died Tuesday after falling ill aboard a flight last week. She was 60.
11. Last Word: Epping Way, Conley's Return and 'Ascend'
- Friday, December 16, 2016
What is the encore after a year that has included the opening of Big River Crossing, the eastward expansion of the Shelby Farms Greenline across Germantown Parkway to the old town part of Cordova and the opening of Shelby Farms Park’s Heart of the Park renovation? Two words: Epping Way.
12. The Week Ahead: October 24-30
- Monday, October 24, 2016
The real fall may finally have arrived in Memphis, but we’ll see. What we do know will arrive this week is the Memphis Grizzlies’ first real game of the 2016-2017 season at FedExForum. And the first public look inside a very historic Memphis church near FedExForum the day before that season opener. The Wolf River also is in the news this week and toward week’s end, Halloween will be lurking around the corner.
13. Shelby County Commission Approves Ambulance Service Starting Jan. 1
- Wednesday, October 19, 2016
In a two-month period, Shelby County government has decided to add ambulances to the services provided by the Shelby County Fire Department after years of regular debates about the wisdom of contracting with private companies for the service.
14. Long-Term Issues Push County Budget To Deadline
- Wednesday, June 29, 2016
It’s not the basics that are keeping Shelby County Commissioners from a majority vote on school funding in the new operating budget.
It is the broader questions and budget assumptions some commissioners want to change in the process.
15. Shelby County Budget Delay Centers on $3.5 Million for Schools
- Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Most of the declarations Monday, June 20, before the Shelby County Commission delayed final votes on local schools funding to next week came from the audience.
“For too long we’ve bled, died, cried and pled for education,” former Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools board member TaJuan Stout-Mitchell told the commission.
16. County Schools Funding Compromise to Be Tested
- Friday, June 17, 2016
Fragile is probably the best way to describe the compromise that emerged this week from county commissioners to fully fund the Shelby County Schools budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The plan that closes a $27.4 million gap between what the school system wants and what Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell proposed in April had eight votes on the 13-member commission in Wednesday, June 15, committee sessions.
17. Pieces of Schools Budget Begin to Fall Into Place
- Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Shelby County Commissioners on Monday, May 9, approved $33 million in capital funding among the county’s seven public school systems for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
Shelby County Schools’ share of the funding, based on average daily attendance, is 78 percent, or $26 million. That’s what SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson requested last month of the commission.
18. Shoot for a Basketball Coaching Star? Memphis Would Have to Pay Big
- Saturday, April 09, 2016
Josh Pastner is officially the new head coach at Georgia Tech and the University of Memphis is officially in the coach search business.
19. Tigers' Josh Pastner Going to Ga. Tech Would Mean Fresh Start for All
- Friday, April 08, 2016
The sports business is the expectations business. Always. No exceptions.
Josh Pastner, while taking some heat a couple of seasons ago at the University of Memphis, said he was getting out of the expectations business.
20. County Commission Questions City Figures on Deannexation
- Friday, March 18, 2016
Some Shelby County Commissioners are skeptical about City Hall’s estimate of how much city government would lose in revenue if a deannexation bill in the Tennessee Legislature becomes law.
The commission’s discussion at Wednesday, March 16, committee sessions came as Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was in Nashville to lobby against the bill in the state Senate.
21. Roland Claims Shelby County Commission Chairmanship
- Wednesday, September 16, 2015
After Terry Roland took the chairman’s seat at the Monday, Sept. 14, Shelby County Commission meeting, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell congratulated him and pledged to work with him.
22. Shelby County Budget Summit Call Begins With Different Priorities
- Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Shelby County government’s financial needs have changed in the nearly two months since the new fiscal year began.
And Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell called Monday, Aug. 24, for a “budget summit” with county commissioners and county trustee David Lenoir to explore the new budget realities.
23. Luttrell Calls For County Budget Summit In Economic Growth Climate
- Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell called Monday, Aug. 24, for a “budget summit” with county commissioners and county Trustee David Lenoir to look at new budget realities.
24. Lenoir: ‘Is It Time for a Tax Decrease?’
- Friday, August 21, 2015
Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir says the $22 million extra in property tax revenue his office collected during the past fiscal year appears to be a trend of improving health in the local economy.
25. Tax Revenue Reopens Budget Wounds
- Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The largest portion of $22 million in extra tax revenue collected by Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir will go to local public education, county commissioners said Monday, July 27.
26. Commission Rejects Cordova Pay Day Loan Business, Spars Over Tax Collections
- Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Shelby County Commissioners approved Monday, July 27, renaming the Shelby County Courthouse at 140 Adams Ave. in honor of the late Circuit Court Judge and civil rights activist D’Army Bailey.
27. County Commission Friction Continues Beyond Budget Season
- Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Put Shelby County government’s budget season in the books for another year.
But the deliberations that ended Monday, July 6, with a stable county property tax rate and county government staying within its $6 million budget surplus weren’t quite as smooth as those decisions might suggest.
28. County Budget Committee Wrestles with Deadline, Schools Funding
- Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The Shelby County Commission’s budget committee chairwoman hopes to present a completed set of budget and tax-rate recommendations to the full commission Wednesday, May 20.
But after a three-hour committee session Monday, other commissioners had doubts about that and a commission decision on schools funding before the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
29. Scarboro Takes Reins at Regional Fed
- Wednesday, April 08, 2015
Douglas Scarboro has been named regional executive of the Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In that role, Scarboro is responsible for working with business leaders and local communities in western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas to inform the setting of monetary policies.
30. Walter Awarded AAF Silver Medal
- Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Ronald A. Walter, president and general manager of WREG-TV, has been chosen to receive AAF Memphis’ 2015 Silver Medal, the highest form of individual recognition given by local chapters of the American Advertising Federation. The annual award, which honors an exceptional leader for a career of outstanding accomplishment and contribution in the industry, will be presented at AAF Memphis’ luncheon Jan. 29 at 11:30 a.m. at Memphis Botanic Garden.
31. Spillyards Leads Community Advisors Launch
- Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Greg Spillyards has joined the brokerage team at Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors to launch the firm’s Community Advisors service line.
Community Advisors is focused on the Memphis city core, with a goal to provide real estate advisory services to assist in the revitalization of the city’s underserved areas with passion, creativity and entrepreneurship, and with service to those already living and leading in their neighborhoods.
32. Lee Joins MOGA’s DeSoto Office
- Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Dr. Daniel Lee has joined the DeSoto office of Memphis Obstetrics & Gynecological Association PC. Lee provides comprehensive women’s health services, including office gynecology, obstetrics and surgical management, to women of all ages.
33. Ford Is New County Commission Chairman In Latest Crossover Trend
- Tuesday, September 09, 2014
Shelby County Commissioners elected a Democratic chairman Monday, Sept. 8, but for a second consecutive year, that chairman was elected with the support of a majority of the Republicans on the body.
34. High-Flying Vols Can’t Overlook Arkansas State
- Saturday, September 06, 2014
KNOXVILLE – You had to be hiding under a rock not to hear the buzz this week about the University of Tennessee’s football team.
One person not reveling in the Vols’ 38-7 season opening victory over Utah State on Sunday night was UT coach Butch Jones.
35. US Won't Reveal Records on Health Website Security
- Wednesday, August 20, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) – After promising not to withhold government information over "speculative or abstract fears," the Obama administration has concluded it will not publicly disclose federal records that could shed light on the security of the government's health care website because doing so could "potentially" allow hackers to break in.
36. Supreme Court: Religious Rights Trump Birth Control Rule
- Tuesday, July 01, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) – A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, the first time the high court has declared that businesses can hold religious views under federal law.
37. Baseball Gives Rebels Realistic Championship Shot
- Friday, June 13, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. – With breakthrough success comes the luxury of laughter, and the breathing room that allows Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco to say that reaching the College World Series took longer than he imagined.
38. Harris Files Ford Challenge at Deadline
- Thursday, April 03, 2014
Memphis City Council member Lee Harris is challenging Democratic state Sen. Ophelia Ford in the August primary for District 29, the Senate seat held by a member of the Ford family since 1975.
39. Court Weighs Securities Fraud Case Changes
- Thursday, March 06, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed open to the possibility of making it harder for investors to join together to sue corporations for securities fraud – but maybe not as hard as companies that have to defend such lawsuits would like.
40. Commission Debates Pay for County Offices
- Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Shelby County Commissioners appear to have another deadlock similar to the one that spilled over from 2011 into 2012 on drawing new district lines for the 13-member body.
This time the issue is what to pay those holding six countywide elected offices once all of the votes are counted next August in the county general elections.
41. County Commission Approves Three More Schools Pacts
- Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Shelby County Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 2, approved agreements for suburban school districts in Millington, Collierville and Bartlett, with little discussion at a special meeting of the body.
The commission approved similar agreements with elected leaders in Arlington and Lakeland in November.
42. Commission Begins Debate on Pay for Elected Offices
- Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Shelby County Commissioners voted Monday, Nov. 18, to keep their annual pay at $29,100 for the term of office that begins Sept. 1, 2014, after the August county general elections.
The ordinance passed on the first of three readings.
43. Commission Considers County Pay Raises
- Monday, November 18, 2013
Shelby County Commissioners take up proposed pay raises Monday, Nov. 18, for the offices of Shelby County mayor, Shelby County sheriff and four other countywide elected officials.
The commission votes on the first of three readings, which also includes an ordinance to keep the pay of Shelby County Commissioners at $29,100 a year.
44. APNewsBreak: Effort Building to Change US Pot Laws
- Tuesday, February 05, 2013
SEATTLE (AP) – An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a federal pot tax.
While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills, the first of which Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday, Blumenauer told The Associated Press.
45. Commission to Disband Schools Capital Needs Group
- Monday, January 28, 2013
Shelby County Commissioners vote Monday, Jan. 28, on disbanding the nearly 10-year-old Needs Assessment Committee that advised the commission on funding school construction and renovation projects across both public school systems.
46. Baker Donelson Adds Five Attorneys in Memphis
- Thursday, November 01, 2012
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has added five attorneys to its Memphis office.
They are Luke Cantrell, Kristin Clay Dunavant, William O’Connor, Sarah Pazar and Mary Wu.
47. Airports and Stock Exchange Reopen After Superstorm Sandy
- Thursday, November 01, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) – Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days after Superstorm Sandy struck.
48. Bankruptcy Judgeship Bill Passed In Congress
- Thursday, May 24, 2012
Congress has passed a bill that will allow a bankruptcy judgeship in Jackson, Tenn., to be filled after the retirement this summer of U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge G. Harvey Boswell.
49. Export Growth Earns Mallory ‘E’ Star Award
- Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Mallory Alexander International Logistics has capped eight years of successive export growth with the President’s “E” Star award to go with the Presidential "E" award the company earned in 2006
50. West Tenn. Bankruptcy Judge Retires
- Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Everybody is having to do more with less these days – including bankruptcy judges in one of the busiest areas of the country in terms of bankrupt debtors.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge G. Harvey Boswell has announced his retirement effective July 8. Boswell’s court is in Jackson, Tenn., which is part of the Western District of Tennessee, the same district that includes the bankruptcy courtrooms of Memphis.
51. Planes, Trains, Buses Return to Normal – Almost
- Wednesday, August 31, 2011
NEW YORK (AP) – The nation's planes, trains and buses had their first full day of near-normal service since Thursday, as most passengers stranded by Hurricane Irene slowly made their way home.
52. Hiring Squeeze Highlights Budget
- Wednesday, June 01, 2011
The Luttrell administration takes a set of proposed budget cuts to Shelby County commissioners Wednesday, June 1, that will mean no 2 percent raise for county employees next fiscal year, no increase in health insurance for county employees and a tighter squeeze on county hiring.
53. Reappraisal Appeals Increase County Red Ink
- Monday, May 23, 2011
As the week began, the Luttrell administration upped the gap between revenues and expenditures in its county operating budget proposal by approximately $4 million.
County chief administrative officer Harvey Kennedy told county commissioners Wednesday the amount of red ink has increased to a total of $16.6 million because of lower revenue estimates for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
54. U of M Symposium to Discuss City’s Place in Law
- Thursday, February 10, 2011
Memphis over the years has been at the center of riveting, controversial and far-reaching court cases.
Many of them have either wound up in the history books or simply re-balanced the scales of justice for ordinary people.
55. University of Memphis Law Symposium Planned
- Friday, January 21, 2011
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is hosting a symposium Feb. 11 on “Memphis in the Law” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will celebrate Memphis’ contribution to the legal community.
56. County Commission Overrides Luttrell IT Veto
- Monday, January 03, 2011
Shelby County Commissioners voted Friday to override a veto by County Mayor Mark Luttrell of the ground rules for a new more centralized information technology (IT) system for county government.
57. Commission Approves Optional IT Centralization
- Friday, November 26, 2010
It could be called a virtual piece of political turf.
This week the Shelby County Commission found more than enough political considerations in the question of who should control county government’s information technology.
58. Even in Liberal Bastions, GOP Sees Election Chance
- Wednesday, October 20, 2010
HYANNIS PORT, Mass. (AP) — In the congressional district that's home to the Kennedy family compound, a Kennedy public skating rink and a Kennedy museum, the heart of liberalism is beating uneasily.
59. Q3 Bankruptcy Reprieve Minor, Temporary
- Friday, October 15, 2010
The judges and clerks in Memphis bankruptcy courtrooms got a small breather between July and September thanks to an atypical drop in bankruptcy activity that was viewed positively but is not expected to last.
60. Kennedy Gives Back to U of M School of Law
- Thursday, September 16, 2010
When it comes to his inspiration for entering the legal profession, David S. Kennedy, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee, gives a nod to his father and to Atticus Finch, Harper Lee’s stalwart symbol of fairness for a generation in her novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
61. Deimund Named Clinical Director of Methodist Wound Centers
- Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Sandy Deimund has been named clinical director for the Methodist North and Methodist South Hospital Comprehensive Wound Healing Centers.
Hometown: Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Education: Certified Wound Specialist (CWS) and a member of the American Academy of Wound Management
Work Experience: Nurse manager, Methodist South Comprehensive Wound Healing Center; registered nurse, Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Favorite quote: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
Last book read: “Love ’Em or Lose ’Em” by Beverly L. Kaye
Favorite music: I like a variety of music, from country to classical.
Favorite movie: “African Queen”
Sports team: Tennessee Titans
Activities you enjoy outside of work: Spending time with friends, sudoku puzzles, traveling, reading
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could pick stocks like Warren Buffet.
Who has had the greatest influence on you? All of the patients who have overcome obstacles in their lives, yet continue to persevere.
Why did you pursue a career in health care? I have always had an innate curiosity about medicine and people. As a child, my dolls were always sick or injured and needed “health care.”
What drew you to Methodist? The Christian atmosphere and multiple opportunities available for nurses.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishments? Any time a patient hugs me or shakes my hand and tells me how much they appreciate my efforts is the greatest feeling.
What do you most enjoy about your work? Working with patients to facilitate their healing process.
62. Bankruptcy Remains On Front Burner
- Friday, July 16, 2010
When two of West Tennessee’s five bankruptcy judges arrive at the University of Memphis’ Downtown law school Monday to address representatives of a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee, they’ll have plenty to talk about.
63. U.S. Judiciary Cmte. to Hold Field Briefing in Memphis
- Wednesday, July 14, 2010
A U.S. House Judiciary Committee subcommittee is holding a field briefing in Memphis Monday on “Home Foreclosures in Memphis” at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Downtown.
64. Springdale Fights Back
- Monday, June 21, 2010
In the mile of Springdale Street between Chelsea and Jackson avenues there are five churches. That’s not counting the churches on side streets.
On Eldridge Avenue, one of those side streets, between two tiny churches is a pair of identical small houses – both boarded up.
The one closest to the corner has faded blue spray paint stenciled across the plywood.
In inner-city Memphis, the stenciling is as familiar as gang graffiti. It’s the mark of the Memphis Police Department’s Blue CRUSH campaign.
Five years into the crackdown guided by a devotion to crime statistics, crime is down in Memphis.
But the statistical drop in crime has come with lingering questions and concerns in Springdale and other neighborhoods with Blue CRUSH houses.
“Once we board them up, we really have to depend on the community to let us know if drug dealers have broken back into them,” Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said. “If we don’t know about it, sometimes drug dealers can get right back in there.”
In the neighborhoods, homeowners lament that street level dealers are easily replaced and soon released from jail to resume their place in the neighborhoods – now with a criminal record that makes a move away from drug dealing even more unlikely.
Last year, a team from Memphis that included a police officer, a state prosecutor, a federal prosecutor, a University of Memphis researcher, the head of the Memphis Leadership Foundation and the pastor of one of those five churches along Springdale went to several cities to get training in a new anti-drug strategy.
“We were really interested in changing people’s lives, not locking them up,” Springdale Baptist Pastor Derrick Hughes told The Memphis News. Hughes wasn’t sure at first if he would be part of the Drug Market Intervention (DMI) program.
“It sounded as if possibly it was just another program that was going to possibly just put criminals in jail without rehabilitation,” he said. “And I wanted to make sure that if we were going to be a part of something that it was going to look at rehabilitating the person, changing lives, changing them from a holistic point of view as well as a spiritual point of view.”
Gibbons said some of his prosecutors and some police brass also had their doubts as they looked for an area to test out DMI Memphis style.
“It was based primarily on looking at crime patterns and in particular drug activity in that area,” he told The Memphis News. There was plenty of open drug dealing in the Springdale area.
Drug Market Intervention is picking several street level drug dealers in a community, confronting them with the evidence against them and telling them they have one more chance to get out of the business. The police are involved in making a decision not to prosecute a few as they target dozens of others in an area.
Others on the team are community leaders from the neighborhood. And some are with proven programs to provide job training and other help in getting a legitimate job.
High Point, N.C., was the first stop for the Memphis group because it is the birthplace of DMI. It seems an unlikely example for Memphis with a population of fewer than 100,000. But in 2003, High Point had several open air drug markets. The city’s new police chief, James Fealy, attacked them using what became the DMI strategy.
David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Control and Prevention at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, replicated DMI in other cities with money from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance. The BJA funded the training of the Memphis team and came here.
Kennedy’s philosophy is specific to open air drug markets. It doesn’t pretend to eliminate all drug dealing.
“Open air drug markets are found primarily in our cities and in African-American neighborhoods,” Kennedy wrote in a 2008 article for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Journal. “Although we are loathe to admit it, this issue is soaked in race.”
Kennedy said police complained to him that the families of the drug dealers and others in the surrounding communities knew they were selling drugs, did nothing to stop it and profited from it.
But Kennedy said those living in the communities countered that police were only interested in locking up as many people as they could as part of a conspiracy to destroy the community.
Kennedy said each side had a point and each side was wrong.
“The crime is real and overwhelmingly the arrests are legitimate. But we are destroying the village in order to save it,” he wrote. “And none of this gets rid of the crime. The drug markets and violence continue to exist.”
Kennedy didn’t try to tackle the long-standing racial issues and their lengthy back story. The conversations that formed the basis for the DMI strategy were about drug markets.
It was hard for some on the Memphis team to believe that hardened drug dealers would respond when the threat of arrest, prison time, drive-by shootings and gang turf tripwires hadn’t discouraged them from the life.
Nevertheless, when they returned to Memphis, the planning began for several months of undercover drug buys in the Springdale area by the police Organized Crime Unit. For months, the officers bought repeatedly from dozens of street dealers in a two-mile radius of Springdale. And they recorded the drug buys on video – not just one buy but multiple buys.
Prosecutors reviewed the cases against more than 60 men and women and prosecuted 51 of them. Five were indicted on federal drug charges. Six others – five men and a woman – were the first candidates for the Memphis DMI program.
“It was taking a look at individuals who obviously were involved in drug trafficking, but a little more on the periphery – not an extensive drug record,” Gibbons said.
A few days after New Year’s Day, police descended on the Springdale area serving the arrest warrants and putting up a fresh crop of plywood with blue stenciling on the drug houses in the area. The neighborhood grapevine buzzed anew about the heavy police presence.
It was still buzzing when on the coldest day of the year – Jan. 8 – the Memphis group knocked on six doors in the Springdale area. The temperature never got near freezing and was in single digits part of the day.
No one inside the six houses knew they were coming. No one approaching the doorsteps knew what the reaction inside would be.
It was the first indication the six people involved and inside those homes had that they had sold drugs to undercover Memphis police officers and had been recorded on video making multiple drug sales to the officers.
The father of one of the six was among those who had been arrested.
When the DMI team knocked on his door, his grandmother answered.
“He did not want his grandmother to know why we were standing at the door,” Peggie Russell, the DMI coordinator and a University of Memphis researcher and community resource specialist, said. “He said, ‘It’s OK grandmother.’”
Howard Eddings, president of the Memphis Leadership Foundation, said the young man didn’t deny he was a drug dealer.
“He wanted to basically shut the door,” Eddings told The Memphis News. “She might not have known exactly what he was doing. She was an older lady. He didn’t like the fact that we were knocking on her door.”
He and the other five got a letter asking them to come to Springdale Baptist Church a few days later. If they came, the letter from Police Director Larry Godwin said they would not be prosecuted this time.
For Hughes the pledge was crucial. He wanted to be able to say, “I give you my word, you will not be arrested,” with certainty and conviction.
Five of the six showed up at Hughes’ church where the congregation and other community leaders were waiting in the sanctuary. On the walls were posters of the 51 defendants who weren’t getting the chance they were about to get. The posters included the possible prison sentences those defendants faced.
The five “guests” sat in a reserved front row with a friend or family member.
Their faces blurred in a video of the event, they listened as Assistant District Attorney Amy Weirich told them, “We’ve had it,” and called their names individually. “The Memphis Police Department is tired of picking up dead bodies in the street.”
Russell remembers some denying they had done anything wrong. Then police showed the video.
They watched video of themselves selling drugs numerous times to undercover police officers.
The woman’s denials stopped.
“She got caught during the first time. I don’t necessarily know that we believed it was the first time,” Eddings remembered. “But she was so embarrassed as a mom who had small kids who was put in the spotlight. … All of her junk is coming to the forefront.”
Russell said some of the others were telling those who came with them that they had no idea why they were summoned to the church.
“You’re sitting there and you’re telling your family member, ‘No, I didn’t do it,’” Russell said. “Then the tape started rolling … and you see yourself. It’s reality. You can’t hide it. I think that was a turning point for most of them.”
Hughes told the group of five that the church cared about them and was willing to help.
Some of his congregants spoke up too.
“Our congregants said, ‘Listen, we’re tired of watching you sell drugs. We’re tired of being afraid of coming in and out of our communities. We want our community back,’” Hughes recalled. “During the call in, some of our residents had an opportunity to look in their faces and say, ‘We are tired of the way you’ve been running down our communities. This used to be a wonderful community where people had pride, where people had hope. … Now a lot of us are afraid.’”
After the tough talk and the confrontation came a commitment to work with the five DMI candidates. Eddings emphasized there are no guarantees.
“We were careful not to promise them that we were going to get them jobs or that even if we could get them a job that it was going to pay them something comparable to what they were making on the street,” he said. ”We said the opposite. We can’t do that at all. But one thing we do know for sure. If you stop doing what you’re doing, you don’t go to jail.”
Russell, who gets much of the credit for pushing to give DMI a try and has become the program’s de facto coordinator, described the response as “something totally new.”
“It’s not about those five,” she said. “They are supposed to stay out of trouble for two years to make the necessary transition in their lives. But it’s really about the Hollywood Springdale community, changing the response of the community to open air drug sales.”
Eddings was surprised by the response.
“Most of these guys’ mamas know what they’re doing. But to know now that other mamas and other grandparents and other church leaders and the community have their eye on you, it has a different motivation,” he said. “Some of these guys are hardened. They’ve been doing it for a while and they’ve been out there on the streets. So, not much embarrasses them. But I could tell by looking at them and even some of the denials.”
The Memphis Leadership Foundation already works with convicted felons trying to make the difficult transition after prison. There are even fewer guarantees for those with a substantial prison record.
Marcus, who didn’t want his last name used, vented about how hard it’s been to find a legitimate job since he did prison time in 2006 for felony drug dealing.
“It’s not like people want to sell drugs,” he began. “On a lot of applications they are saying they don’t discriminate. They’re lying. … They’re ready to end the session right then. They might tear up the application in your face.”
If drug dealers like him bring blight to areas like Springdale and violence and a hard life for law-abiding citizens, Marcus said society has responded with its own brand of hardness.
“They ain’t reaching out anymore,” he said. “They expect for the world to be better because we’re building more jails. We’re putting more cops out. If somebody killed me today – the person who killed me, they want to put him in jail. But why put him in jail when y’all treating this man he killed like he’s a nobody anyway.”
Eddings said with criminal records or without, street level drug dealers have problems as they get older because they have no legitimate work history. He started to say there aren’t transferable skills before thinking about it.
“Actually, some of the skills do transfer. They’ve just got to get access,” he said. “It’s really a reshaping, a little bit more recognition that they need to deal with in terms of how they see themselves and how they can use those skills that they utilize on the streets to do something positive and pursue a legitimate way of life.”
The young man Eddings is working with seems not to have hit the wall that Marcus is at yet.
“He is simply trying to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. They go from having some source of income to having no source of income,” Eddings told The Memphis News. “We’re convincing him now that getting his GED ought to be a decision that he ought to make. He’s been a little slow in that.”
Hughes said he would get the occasional dope boy showing up at his church before DMI.
“Very rarely. I did hear one or two stragglers you come across who say, ‘Yes, I do want to change.’ Often times, it’s usually because of a pending trial or they are in trouble,” he said. “Since that time, we’ve had a lot of people coming, wanting to change their lives.”
Gibbons is reviewing some neighborhoods where DMI might go next but he’s not saying where because of the undercover police work involved. He wants to see it replicated based on lessons learned in Memphis and he hopes to get a federal grant to hire a full-time coordinator.
The sixth man given a chance in the DMI program didn’t come to the church and was prosecuted. He pleaded guilty to five counts of selling drugs and was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $10,000. But the sentence was suspended and he was put on a diversion program.
Weirich recalled Criminal Court Judge John Fowlkes asking the man why he didn’t respond. He told Fowlkes, “It sounded too good to be true.” ...
65. UPDATE: Harold Ford Jr.'s New York Times Op-Ed
- Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Former Memphis Congressman Harold Ford Jr. will not run for the U.S. Senate from New York.
He explained his reasons in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times.
Here is the column in its entirety from the New York Times:
66. Evolve Bank & Trust Names Holland to Board
- Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Evolve Bank & Trust has named Lewis E. Holland to its board of directors.
Holland served six years as president of the regional investment banking firm UMIC Inc., and after its sale in 1988 became a partner at the Memphis office of Ernst & Young LLP.
67. Harold Ford Jr.: 'I Continue to Learn' about NY
- Friday, January 22, 2010
TAPPAN, N.Y. (AP) - Harold Ford Jr. ventured to the suburbs Thursday to test the waters outside New York City for a possible U.S. Senate bid but admitted he still has a lot to learn about the state.
68. Gut-Check for Obama and Dems on Health Care
- Thursday, January 21, 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) - Abandoning the health care overhaul is not an option, a senior White House official said Wednesday, after President Barack Obama's top domestic initiative took a devastating hit with the Democratic loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat.
69. 3 Democrats – 2 Senators, 1 Governor – to Retire
- Thursday, January 07, 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) - With the 2010 election year barely under way, two senators and one governor – all Democrats – ditched plans to run for re-election in the latest signs of trouble for President Barack Obama's party.
70. Wiggins Ready To Grab YLD Baton
- Thursday, November 19, 2009
Kyle M. Wiggins is ready to get behind the wheel.
Today at the Memphis Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Annual Meeting and Elections, current YLD president Freeman Foster, an attorney for the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County, will pass the gavel to Wiggins.
71. Brookings Researchers Warn of More Flight Delays
- Friday, October 09, 2009
DALLAS (AP) - Lengthy airline delays are twice as common now as in 1990 and will get worse as the economy recovers, according to a Brookings Institution report released Thursday.
The researchers said much of the problem is due to heavy concentrations of short trips between big cities, but they also cited an "ill-equipped" air traffic control system and other factors.
72. Mass. Senate Delays Debate on Kennedy Interim Bill
- Monday, September 21, 2009
BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts Republicans temporarily blocked Senate debate Friday on a bill allowing Gov. Deval Patrick to name an interim appointment to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy.
73. Congress Probing SEC's Madoff Failure
- Friday, September 11, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress is reopening its inquiry into the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's failure to detect the multibillion-dollar fraud conducted for more than a decade by Bernard Madoff, this time seeking answers from the agency watchdog and potential lessons for lawmakers in crafting new financial rules.
74. Senate Confirms Sotomayor for Supreme Court
- Friday, August 07, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor Thursday as the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.
The vote was 68-31 for Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's first high court nominee. She becomes the 111th justice and just the third woman to serve.
- Friday, July 31, 2009
The Memphis Bar Association will hold a continuing legal education seminar today from noon to 1 p.m. at 200 Jefferson Ave., sixth floor. Judges David Kennedy, Jennie Latta, George Emerson and Paulette Delk will speak about reaffirmation agreements. To register, visit www.memphisbar.org/cle.
- Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Shelby County Commission’s EOC Appeal Board will meet today at 9:30 a.m. in the fourth floor committee room of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St. The Rules Subcommittee of the Shelby County Ethics Commission will meet at 4 p.m. in Suite 660. For more information, call Steve Summerall at 545-4301.
- Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Shelby County Commission will hold committee meetings today beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the fourth floor committee room of the Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St. For more information, call Steve Summerall at 545-4301.
78. Obama: Health Care Reform Essential to Stability
- Thursday, July 16, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - Praising and prodding Congress, President Barack Obama on Wednesday said a vast reform of the nation's health insurance system is required to head off instability to families, industry and the government itself.
79. House Democrats to Open Hearings on Health Bill
- Wednesday, June 24, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - House Democrats are pushing forward with a partisan health care bill even as a key Senate Democrat labors to achieve an elusive bipartisan compromise on President Barack Obama's top legislative priority.
80. Senate Off to a Rocky Start on Health Care
- Thursday, June 18, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate on Wednesday began writing legislation to revamp the nation's health care system, but its historic first step was overshadowed by partisan anger and cost problems that troubled lawmakers on both sides.
81. Kennedy Health Plan Aids Elders, Young Adults
- Thursday, June 11, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - Proposals that would help disabled seniors and healthy young adults are among dozens of provisions tucked into sweeping health care legislation that senators will begin considering next week.
82. Judges Must Avoid Appearance of Bias, Court Rules
- Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that elected judges must step aside from cases when large campaign contributions from interested parties create the appearance of bias.
By a 5-4 vote in a case from West Virginia, the court said that a judge who remained involved in a lawsuit filed against the company of the most generous supporter of his election deprived the other side of the constitutional right to a fair trial.
83. Cohen on Frontlines of Possible Bankruptcy Reform
- Monday, February 09, 2009
David Kennedy, chief bankruptcy judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in West Tennessee, told The Daily News last month he’d like to see Congress make some wholesale changes to the country’s bankruptcy code.
84. ’08 Bankruptcy Filings Swelled With Faltering Economy
- Friday, January 16, 2009
Public television audiences around the U.S. watched Tuesday night as historian Niall Ferguson narrated and hosted “The Ascent of Money,” a two-hour PBS documentary about the evolution of money within a global context.
85. Senate Panel Backs Clinton as Secretary of State
- Friday, January 16, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the next secretary of state, with lawmakers saying they were hopeful her leadership would mark a turn from warfare toward diplomacy.
86. ’05 Bankruptcy Amendment To Be Tested in ’09
- Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The painful economic slump of 2008 has many vantage points from which the wreckage can be studied.
One of those vantage points is occupied by David Kennedy, chief bankruptcy judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s West Tennessee Division. From his perch, he has arguably one of the most sweeping and expansive views of the ruin left by the excesses of the country’s financial system.
87. Bush Trying Again to Stem Holiday Flight Delays
- Wednesday, November 19, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) - Anticipating another holiday travel crunch, President Bush said on Tuesday that his administration was taking steps to prevent frustrating flight delays during the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.
88. CCC Ready to Write Off Loan Defaults
- Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Three Downtown businesses that have filed for bankruptcy protection since December collectively owe the Center City Commission more than $151,000 in unpaid loan debt.
Because of the financial straits each business is confronted with, the CCC does not expect to get any of that money back.
89. Q3 Bankruptcies Up 11 Percent
- Friday, October 17, 2008
At first glance, it might seem like Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks’ Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing this month does not fall in line with the intent of a major revision to the country’s bankruptcy code in 2005.
90. Presidential Debate a Who’s Who of Tennessee Pols
- Friday, October 10, 2008
Its setting was the geographic center of Tennessee’s political universe.
And at Belmont University in Nashville for this week’s second of three highly anticipated presidential debates, it was probably natural the spotlight would turn to the Tennesseans on hand who normally are fixtures in state and federal halls of power.
- Friday, July 11, 2008
The Memphis Bar Association will host “How to Prove Your Case” today from noon to 2:15 p.m. The seminar will be held in the courtroom of David S. Kennedy, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Tennessee, on the ninth floor at 200 Jefferson Ave. The seminar is worth two hours of continuing legal education credit. Registration will begin at 11:45 a.m. For more information, call the MBA at 527-3573 or visit www.memphisbar.org.
- Thursday, July 10, 2008
The Charter Commission of Memphis and Shelby County will meet today at 3 p.m. in the fifth floor conference room at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. For more information, call Bridgett Handy-Clay at 576-6511.
93. Economic Sting Still Felt
- Monday, April 07, 2008
A woman and child stop and peruse a display of necklaces inside a Just-A-Buck store that sits in a sprawling retail center along Germantown Parkway. Inexpensive trinkets line the rows of shelves inside.
94. Bush Urges Speedy Action on Economic Rescue Package: 'Crank This Sucker Up'
- Tuesday, January 22, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) - It didn't take long for President Bush to find a symbol for his desire to prime the sagging economy.
At a factory in Frederick, Md., Bush eyed a huge, yellow standup lawnmower and declared: "Crank this sucker up."
95. Supreme Court LooksAt FedEx Discrimination Case
- Thursday, November 08, 2007
The Supreme Court signaled Tuesday that employees who claim job discrimination should not suffer because of mistakes made by the federal agency charged with investigating their allegations.
96. Supreme Court Looks at FedEx Age Discrimination Case
- Wednesday, November 07, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court signaled Tuesday that employees who claim job discrimination should not suffer because of mistakes made by the federal agency charged with investigating their allegations.
97. Apartment Owners May Avoid Court-Enforced Sale with Reorganization Plan
- Tuesday, October 16, 2007
A federal bankruptcy judge has brokered a compromise in a complicated dispute between two cash-strapped apartment properties and an out-of-state bank.
Part of the solution called for the nonprofit group that owns the two properties - Cornerstone-Cameron & Stonegate Inc. - to submit a business reorganization plan. Should the bankruptcy court approve that plan, the apartments' ownership will avoid a bank-proposed sale of the properties and gain a chance to turn their finances around.
98. From Overton Park to Shelby Farms, Newman No Stranger to Conservancy
- Thursday, October 11, 2007
Had he stopped with the famous case he helped win more than three decades ago, Charles Newman's legal career already would have reached a zenith other lawyers could only dream of matching.
As a young attorney in 1971, Newman fought Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The stakes were high; at issue was a decision by then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe that would have seen the completion of Interstate 40 in Memphis slice through Midtown's Overton Park.
99. Charges of Default
- Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Depending on what a federal bankruptcy judge decides, two Memphis apartment properties struggling to make debt payments while trying to overcome insufficient occupancy rates and rental revenue may be put up for sale.
100. High Mortgage Foreclosures Could be Addressed With New Law
- Thursday, August 23, 2007
With the number of foreclosures on the rise, a congressman from Illinois has plans to do something about it.
The New York Times reported Sunday that U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., plans to introduce a bill in September that possibly could change bankruptcy laws to address the rising number of mortgage foreclosures.